‘SNL’ returns — and brings Pete Davidson back with it

The show kicked off its 49th season with The King of Staten Island hosting.

‘SNL’ returns — and brings Pete Davidson back with it
Bowen Yang, Pete Davidson and Heidi Gardner in Saturday Night Live. / NBC

After a longer than usual absence, Saturday Night Live is back. Despite the early ending to last season and the slightly late start to this season, the show feels exactly the same. And that’s a good thing.

  • The cast returns: With Lorne Michaels bringing back the entire cast from last season (with the addition of Chloe Troast), SNL now has a shot to build on the extremely strong run it had going before the writers strike. No celebrities playing major characters. The dark shadow of Alec Baldwin looming over the cast and show is long, long gone now. We even got a former castmember who hasn’t been a former castmember for very long back as the host this week, which in a way made it feel like there wasn’t even a host.
  • The King of Staten Island: Pete Davidson did have the honor of being the host this week, though. Instead of hosting the third-to-last episode of Season 48, he found himself leading the Season 49 premiere — and having to deliver a cold open about a tragic week in Israel and Gaza.
  • Deep SNL Thoughts and you: You’ll notice that this edition of Deep SNL Thoughts is available to all Popculturology subscribers. With the paid structure still frozen, I thought it would be good to make this feature open to everyone. As always, I can’t promise when Deep SNL Thoughts will hit your inbox. (Honestly, we’re lucky there isn’t a Buffalo Bills game on at 1 p.m. this week, since that’s when our daughter naps and I do my SNL watching.)
  • Let’s do this: I’m excited for this season of SNL. Last season showed how much potential this cast and the show has when they’re given a chance in the spotlight. I love seeing everyone from last year back, and I can’t wait to see who the show brings in to host while the actors wait for their fair labor deal.


Pete Davidson lost his father, a firefighter, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s often easy to brush Davidson off as a joke — I mean, he does it himself — but he knows that it’s like to experience that kind of loss as a child.

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At his core, Davidson is a standup comedian, so it’s not a surprise that he chose the “gonna do a standup routine” for his monologue. (Other popular monologue choices include “let’s do a studio tour” and “gonna take questions from the audience.”)

  • “Hardly any dragons. Lots of incest. Tons of incest!” I don’t know if I’d recommend Game of Thrones for any brother-sister bonding …


I’m Just Pete

I haven’t seen Barbie yet (my Blu-ray of the movie arrives this week), but Caitlin assures me that “I’m Just Pete” matched the vibes of Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken.”

  • Black Pete: Yes, Devon Walker knows about the comparisons of him to Davidson.
  • Full circle: Greta Gerwig has mentioned that Gosling was her choice to play Ken in Barbie thanks to his previous gigs hosting SNL. And now here’s Davidson spoofing Gosling’s big song from Barbie.
  • “He just left, and it’s not like his show was a hit.” Wow, burn. No one would talk to Kenan Thompson like that when it comes to shows being canceled …


Fox NFL Sunday

SNL wasted no time addressing the whirlwind romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. Both Swift and Kelce have previously hosted the show, and I have no doubt there are enough writers and castmembers on the show who are well-versed in Swift, Kelce or both to perfectly nail this sketch.

  • Kelce cameo: The Kansas City Chiefs tight end made a quick appearance at the end of this sketch. I’m not sure if was meant to be that abrupt or if a line or a camera cue was flubbed. (Honestly surprised that Heidi Gardner didn’t find a way to appear in the shot with Kelce.)
  • Pete’s Sandler-isms: Anyone notice that Davidson can really easily slip into Adam Sandler mode?


Wired Autocomplete Interview

Wait, Zach Elliott is a real person who had destructive diarrhea on a Delta Flight? Is he actually in a Disney+ show? And were six meat-and-bean pretzels from Auntie Anne’s actually to blame?

  • YouTube culture: Like with the Hot Ones sketch a few years ago, does the average SNL viewer know that things like the Wired Autocomplete Interview are real shows that constantly churn out new episodes on YouTube?



Gardner established herself over the past few seasons as one of SNL’s top castmembers, especially after Kate McKinnon left the show. As Trudy, the secretary to a Mad Men-esque businessman, she drove that honor home. Great delivery of ridiculous lines? Check. Physical comedy? Check.

  • “Get lost in your butt”: This line is pure Pete Davidson.


Please Don’t Destroy: The Original Princes of Comedy

The kids playing the Please Don’t Destroy guys during their Original Princes of Comedy crushed it.

  • Melvin, Jake and Ice Spice: I love that Davidson referred to the three members of Please Don’t Destroy by random names. I’m sorry, guys, I still don’t know your names either.
  • “A film by Please Don’t Destroy”: This is the first time that Please Don’t Destroy got teased during the opening credits. I’m guessing it’s because they’re promoting Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain, but that’s an honor that The Lonely Island never got, even when they had Hot Rod to promote.


Christopher Columbus on Statues of Himself and His Discoveries

Bowen Yang is now the definitive Christopher Columbus. No one else gets to play Columbus again. Ever.


Deion Sanders on Coaching at University of Colorado Boulder

Is Kenan Thompson the greatest SNL castmember? Now in his 21st season, there’s no doubt that he can do anything and everything — and look so at ease while doing it. Watching him play off Colin Jost made me think of how strange the show will be when the day comes when it’s without Thompson.



We didn’t get much Michael Longfellow during this episode, but here he is as the captain of a Star Trek-esque ship. This was Yang’s sketch, though, playing Marley, a guy who used to work on the ship and happened to show up just as it was taking enemy fire.

  • “Funnied himself to death”: I don’t know why this euphemism for dying by alcoholism made me laugh like it did.


Beach Day

A quiet night for Andrew Dismukes (and Sarah Sherman) up until this point too. I’d love to see the behind-the-scenes look at how this sketch came together. You can see a bit of the sand-colored shirt that Dismukes is wearing. Was he buried in sand? Is the sketch on some kind of riser that allowed him to stand up and peek his head through the sand?



Glamgina. It’s “makeup for your other face.”

Live from New York, it’s Chloe Troast: SNL’s lone new castmember of the season got her biggest part in this episode during this sketch.


Roadhouse Bar

I’m shocked it took until the final sketch of the night for Davidson to break in any way. Right? Did he break during the “Secretary” sketch after Gardner crashed through her desk? I think this was it. Pete Davidson made it through almost an entire episode of SNL without breaking.


  • Travis Kelce (“Fox NFL Sunday”)
  • John Mulaney (“Please Don’t Destroy: The Original Princes of Comedy”)
  • Taylor Swift (Second Ice Spice introduction)


Bad Bunny hosts SNL on Oct. 21 with himself as the musical guest.

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