King T'Challa of Wakanda struggles to keep up with "Black Jeopardy" on an otherwise lackluster evening.
Chadwick Boseman was the host of the week, but he was completely upstaged by Cardi B's live reveal of her pregnancy during her second number. The rapper has been playing coy about the rumors of her pregnancy, but there was no hiding it as she came out in a figure-hugging white dress for her performance of "Be Careful," and appropriate choice for the reveal.
Cardi also featured in a pre-recorded sketch with Aidy Bryant, and we hate to admit it kind of made us wish she'd been the host. Chadwick is a fantastic actor at the top of his career with the stellar success of "Black Panther," but he did not seem like he was built for the demands of a sketch comedy show. We know he can memorize lines for movies, but he really struggled to get his eyes off of the cue cards here. The episode had a few shining moments with some very clever sketches, and he was hilarious in "Black Jeopardy" as T'Challa, but this was not a great night for the King of Wakanda.
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Cold Open and the regular "Weekend Update" segments. We'll skip the musical guests, because they're not usually funny - unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week. But first, let's take a look at Cardi's big moment, and reveal, with her performance of "Be Careful."
Late in the episode is where "SNL" tends to drop the stranger sketches, so this one was right where it belonged. It featured Chadwick Boseman, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson as a band of singing gypsies who wanted to file a complaint -- in song -- about the hostess at a restaurant. Everything was overwrought and overdone and we have no idea why this sketch existed. Chadwick spent the majority of the sketch staring directly into the cue cards like his life depended on it, or hitting a low note the way Louis Armstrong was. It just wasn't funny.
MONOLOGUE: Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman was excited to finally be hosting "SNL," and it only took until "Black Panther" had been out two months! It was a pretty low-key monologue light on jokes, but we did get an appearance by Kenan Thompson as Panthro ("Thundercats"), begging to be in the sequel, and a few moments of Boseman dancing like James Brown, so it wasn't a total wash.
In the middle of fighting a fire, Chadwick's character had an ambiguous accent that came and went and needed to leave at exactly 6 p.m. He had an important thing to do that involved dogs and dolls. The sketch then devolved into trying to guess what his thing was. Unfortunately, Chadwick was really struggling with the lines on this, so his delivery was really flat as he hung on that teleprompter. On top of that awkwardness, it wasn't all that funny, either.
Fertility Frontier Project
Mikey Day was pregnant in a breakthrough technology, but at a press conference discovered he has to give birth naturally and with no drugs. And that was the whole joke. He was worried about his penis, as was Chadwick Boseman as the lead scientist and everyone else in the room. But they didn't worry enough about slipping in some good jokes along the way, and that premise just wasn't strong enough to sustain the whole sketch.
This Disney attraction allows girls and women to approach a mirror to see which Disney Princess they have inside them. Melissa Villasenor got Elsa from "Frozen," Cecily Strong was Rapunzel. Then things take a turn when Leslie Jones got Chadwick Boseman's R. Kelly. Then he starts singing about putting popcorn in a bag. When she tries again, she gets Elsa as well ... for a few moments, until R. Kelly returns. So the joke is that R. Kelly is creepy? Yeah, they really didn't go anywhere with this one, either. And Boseman didn't have much to do again. Why are they underutilizing his talent?
We've already seen the hip-hop prowess of Aidy Bryant, sitting in stark contrast to her usual sweet demeanor presented on the show. This week, we find that her newfound confidence -- and crassness -- is because of an inspiration by Cardi B. And that seems to have come because their names are similar. But while it was fun watching her ham it up in a few moments here and there, the aggressive smack talk to the guys didn't quite hit the mark. Maybe it's because we know she's pretty badass on the mic, but we were wanting her to go full Cardi with a legit rap song and performance, with Cardi joining her on it.
There was a lot of Trump material to cover, but we're kind of with Michael Che. He and Colin Jost could have just skipped the reveal that Stormy Daniels can describe Trump's genitalia in great detail. We don't need that image burned into our brains, either.
They got in some sharp jabs at the new Parkland clear bookbags, a golfer spraining his ankle celebrating a hole-in-one, and an Australian ordering a drink with a knife in his back.
Alex Moffat is becoming a go-to guy for new impressions, and he debuted his Mark Zuckerberg for a segment discussing the major information breach. His take was to ratchet up the social awkwardness and simply let people know that their information is his. "No backsies!"
Heidi Gardner then returned as every boxer's girlfriend ever. If you've seen her on the show before, then you probably could have skipped this as she didn't really bring anything new to it, unfortunately. Hopefully, she doesn't come back unless she finds a fresh take on something.
COLD OPEN: Trump Meets Baltic Leaders
After nearly a month away, Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump decided to keep things simple by just telling us what we'd already known; it just took him a minute to get there. We got Trump thinking about how great Roseanne Barr is, and throwing to the Latvian president when asked about Stormy Daniels. "These three came all the way from Hufflepuff," he told the press, asking them to keep it light before admitting his presidency was a "cash grab" and he doesn't care about any of them. The sketch kept it short and focused, which was beneficial because even Baldwin doing a Trump-ramble gets old. The addition of the creepy White House bunny was a nice addition. It was in and out just in time before it got old.
Nike Pro-Chiller Leggings
Finally, a sketch that fully gets what leggings are about. Sure, they're marketed as the best thing for women to wear while running or getting their workout on in the gym, but that's not why they're worn. Most women throw them on for comfort and spend the next however-many-hours-are-left-in-the-day on the couch. As much as we see leggings on women in our daily lives, how often are those women actively exercising. Exactly. Finally, someone said it! And they're not wrong. They are super comfortable and practical for practically everything!
Black Panther Salute
Leslie Jones and Chris Redd didn't like Pete Davidson and Beck Bennett doing the Black Panther salute and they weren't even sure why they didn't like it. It hurt them in their blackest parts, they said. The sketch explored the idea that there shouldn't be anything wrong with white people wanting to support "Black Panther" with the salute, just as black fans have been able to mimic Spider-Man shooting webbing or other white heroes. The sketch gets props for exploring a bizarre phenomenon as our society legit has been debating who has the right to the Wakandan salute.
Oh T'Challa, you didn't stand a chance. Chadwick looked bewildered as the King of Wakanda on this game show that mocks the black experience in America. In Wakanda, they support law enforcement and one another, so his answers were adorably naive and idealistic. Kenan Thompson got to mug for the camera as only he can in a sketch that was both funny and had something to say about race. Yes, it's repetitive, but it always works and it always manages to find new ways to mine laughs out of commonality -- no one wants Karen's bland potato salad mucking up their barbecue!
The Game of Life: DACA Edition
This brilliant board game parody featured a separate board for Melissa Villasenor after she drew "Dreamer" as her character type. She wound up on a gray board being chased by ICE agents and even had a wall thrown up between her and the regular board. There's a stack of Presidential Tweet cards to make her hardship even worse. After DACA was killed, an expansion pack sent her to the floor as the board expanded further. This was a sketch that was clever and well executed. Honestly, we'd have rather seen more of this than some of the disappointing sketches that preceded it ... and why was it saved until so late in the show?
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Melissa Villasenor and Kenan Thompson had the busiest week among the regular cast-members, but it was Kenan who had the more laugh-out-loud moments, centered around his turn as Darnell, the hilarious host of "Black Jeopardy." He nailed his appearance as a "woke" dad in the "Black Panther Salute" sketch, and even managed to mine some laughs out of a ridiculous Panthro appearance in the monologue, while offering solid support as a fire chief and a singing restaurant patron. It was a busy night for the longest-running cast member, proving he's got it as long as he wants to give it.
"Saturday Night Live" returns Apr. 7 with host John Mulaney and musical guest Jack White, airing live coast-to-coast at 11:35 p.m ET/8:35 p.m. PT.