Rami Malek Impersonates Pete Davidson In A Wholly Satisfying Saturday Night Live (With A Little Help From Daniel Craig)

This weekend brought another new episode of "Saturday Night Live" — the third in a series of four back-to-back episodes kicking off season 47 with four first-time hosts. 

"No Time to Die" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" star Rami Malek hosted the show, and although he's best known for his dramatic roles and having "resting villain face," he turned out to be a wholly satisfying collaborator who wasn't afraid to get weird with the "SNL" cast. The Oscar winner turned in a fantastic impersonation of cast member Pete Davidson, and, even though he didn't need it, Daniel Craig also stepped in to help make with the funny. 

Let's break down every sketch from the Rami Malek hosted "Saturday Night Live."

The Best

Mattress Store – It can be hard to find a mattress that provides top notch comfort, so you want to make sure that it fits all your sleeping needs. The employees of Sleepy Town USA are here to help, even if it means watching customers carry out a series of oddball vignettes between a husband and wife. Rami Malek's trademark intensity made his interaction with a melodramatic Aidy Bryant that much more satisfying. Similar to hosts like Adam Driver, Malek commits to the bit like a dedicated dramatic performer rather than simply trying to ham it up for laughs, and here it works spectacularly. 

Bug Assembly – Bowen Yang often plays variations on the same flamboyantly gay character. But it's the subtle changes in those variations that make him much more than a one-trick pony. Here, that flamboyancy is executed as a child portraying a Daddy Long Legs spider for a school's bug assembly, emphasis on the "Daddy" part of the nomenclature. Watching Yang strut his stuff in that spider costume made for a great physical gag, but it's the inappropriate answers to questions about the actual bug that made this sketch shine. As a little nitpick, it seems odd that all these young kids have rather professionally tailored bug costumes when more low-rent costumes might have made the proceedings a little funnier.

Since this was the first sketch after the monologue, I was worried that this episode wouldn't let Malek have any fun, relegating him to the straight man throughout the night's sketches. But thankfully, Malek was allowed to spread his wings in surprising ways, and the show ended up playing to his strengths rather well.

Celeb School Game Show – The game show formula and celebrity impersonation round-up is a staple of "SNL," but it actually feels like it's been awhile since they've done such a lengthy version of a sketch like this. First of all, it was nice to see this executed outside of a "Celebrity Family Feud" bubble. Second, the line-up of impressions here are almost all fantastic. Admittedly, I wish James Austin Johnson's take on Adam Driver was a bit more meaty, and Chris Redd's impression of Lil' Wayne is a surface-level performance, but everyone else does a bang-up job. However, the standout is Rami Malek, who absolutely nailed his impersonation of Pete Davidson. Meanwhile, Pete Davidson played Rami Malek a little less successfully. But the draw here was seeing these two play off each other, and it worked very well. Special shoutout to Melissa Villaseñor's take on Kristen Wiig, and Kenan Thompson can still work wonders with the thankless game show host role.

The Average

Squid Game – Here's where I have to admit that I'm only vaguely aware of the finer details of "Squid Game." Since I know the basic premise and a few of the more peculiar details of the deadly, fictional competition, this sketch still worked for me. However, I can't imagine it works for anyone who is totally clueless. It's a fairly basic country song parody that merely spells out how insane the concept of the series is, but watching Rami Malek and Pete Davidson go through the motions was still fairly amusing, especially with Malek's wide-eyed expression of fear. 

Angelo – All right, featured player Aristotle Athari got a chance to try out an original character, albeit as the 10-to-1 sketch. But what a 10-to-1 sketch it was! Daniel Craig popped in for this sketch alongside Cecily Strong, and the two get to witness the musical magic that comes from Angelo. Coming from an unnamed foreign country, Angelo has the gift of improvising beautiful songs with the simple suggestion of single word. Of course, the songs are not only mostly gibberish (or at least a language that I don't understand), but they all sound exactly the same. The sketch takes another amusing turn with Rami Malek appearing as an equally perplexing dancer to accompany Angelo. If Sarah Sherman gets a chance to break out soon, we could be looking at another batch on extremely talented featured players.

Football Press Conference (Cold Open) – Well, it sounds like the writers at "SNL" finally got a clue and realized they didn't have to make comedic mountains out of political molehills. Instead, they veered into a different topical territory by lampooning the recent NFL controversy surrounding the racist, misogynist, and homophobic e-mails of the Las Vegas Raiders head coach. Not only was this a fantastic showcase of impersonations and mockery of some of the real figures involved, but the fast-cycling through various replacement coaches added another layer of laughs. 

Even though this was an eight-minute sketch, it never felt like it dragged, which we've rarely been able to say about the extended political cold opens over the past half-decade or so. Plus, it felt like it didn't pull any punches when it comes to calling out the hypocrisy of the NFL. The LeVar Burton ending felt a little shoehorned in there, but Kenan Thompson made the most of it.

The Worst

Prince Auditions – Let me be clear, even though this sketch ended up in "The Worst" part of our recap, this sketch actually isn't bad at all. Honestly, there wasn't a sketch that I would call bad from this entire episode. The only reason this sketch landed here was because it was the least funny of the night and it had some technical hiccups and timing issues that messed up some of the comedy. Rami Malek and Kenan Thompson didn't always have the timing right on their pretend guitar-playing, and sometimes the timing of that expressive Prince moan was just a little off. Plus, the arrival of Daniel Craig was fumbled a bit, and it kinda sucked the wind out of the sails. But Craig brought things back quickly by partaking in the Prince shenanigans. When a sketch like this is the "worst" of the night, you know it was a good episode of "SNL."

Weekend Update

Colin Jost and Michael Che had some of their trademark banter and jabs, and that's when Weekend Update is best. In fact, what appeared to be an ad-libbed line from Che about an intentionally racist and insulting e-mail that he sent to Jost actually improved a somewhat hacky one-liner from Jost about the NFL e-mail controversy from the cold open. As has become tradition, it's Che with the more edgy and scathing one-liners, eliciting groans from the audience, and that's exactly what he's going for. If there's one Weekend Update host from the past couple decades who has emulated the work of Norm Macdonald, it's Michael Che.

You can watch the second part of Weekend Update over here.

A Proud Gay Oompa Loompa on Timothée Chalamet – Here's Bowen Yang playing another flamboyant gay character. But again, there's a slight variation in his approach as this Oompa Loompa who is standing up against the working conditions of Willy Wonka's factory, even if the chocolatier is now being viewed as a twink version of the character played by Timothée Chalamet. Kudos for the IATSE shoutout too

Chris Redd on What's Really Important – It's been so long since Chris Redd did this kind of appearance at Weekend Update that I wasn't sure what was going on. But I loved Chris Redd's high strung appearance that felt like he was doing stand-up bits. I wondered where this heightened variation on the real Chris Redd came from, and it turns out this was a ruse for a hilarious callback to something that Redd said off-the-cuff in a February 2020 episode of "SNL" before the coronavirus really took off. 

Hypnotist Linus Minus on Hypnosis – Honestly, I had to Google "Linus Minus" to see if this was a real performer from New York. Furthermore, I'm surprised that this sketch played out on Weekend Update instead of a full fledged sketch with a hypnotist show. Maybe the layer of having an NBC employee played by Kenan Thompson makes it funnier than a sketch framed around a real stage show, especially with the escalation of the hypnotism gone wrong. As a bonus, the constant correction of how "Zendaya" is pronounced made for a nice, subtle addition to the shenanigans.

The Host

When Rami Malek was announced as one of the first four hosts of the 47th season of "Saturday Night Live," I was worried. Malek felt like one of those dramatic actors who may not be suited for live comedy. But thankfully, he turned out to be a surprisingly great host who I wouldn't mind seeing return sometime in the future. Malek wasn't relegated to just the straight man roles while the rest of the cast got to be funny, and he wasn't afraid to use his perceived intensity and, shall we say, unique appearance to his advantage. On top of that, he wasn't afraid to poke fun at himself in the monologue, and his delivery wasn't stilted or nervous in the least. A commendable performance all around.


Bowen Yang – On top of his delightfully sassy Daddy Long Legs and proudly gay Oompa Loompa, Yang also made the most of his brief appearances as George Takei in the "Celeb School" sketch, and he made for the perfect straight man in the "Mattress Store" sketch as well. Though Yang often seems to be doing the same thing over and over again, he does it extremely well, which has worked for many cast members over the years, from Chris Farley to Leslie Jones. There's a reason he was nominated for an Emmy earlier this year, and if he keeps it up, he's bound to get another nomination next year.

The Final Word

If you'd told me that Rami Malek would have the best episode of "SNL" at the beginning of season 47, I wouldn't have believed it. But here we are, and I'm more than happy to have such a surprise. This was such a good episode that former cast member Jason Sudeikis will have to deliver something spectacular to top this episode. We have no doubt that he can pull it off, and we're hoping for some "Ted Lasso" incorporation alongside at least a couple returning sketches from his tenure on the sketch show, so let's hope the rest of the "SNL" crew is up for the task. Check back next week for our breakdown of the fourth episode of the season.