Alec Baldwin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live tonight was no surprise – nor really was a shirtless Vladimir Putin arriving by chimney – so John Goodman provided the late-starting episode’s wake-up call: He played Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s Secretary of State pick and, in SNL‘s version, scheming buddy of the Russian leader.
The set-up: Baldwin’s Trump and Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway are going over inauguration plans (her list of potential entertainers fits on a Post-It note) and recent cabinet nomination Rick Perry (“I saw him on Dancing With the Stars,” Trump says. “It’s just unpresidented!”) when down from the chimney comes Beck Bennett’s Putin: “We think you are the best candidate, the smartest candidate, the Manchurian candidate.”
Bennett’s Putin then gifts Baldwin’s Trump with an Elf on a Shelf containing a hidden spying device – the second-best late-night Elf on a Shelf/Trump joke in as many weeks.
The cold open’s pay-off came with Goodman though, as his Exxon CEO Tillerson barged into Trump Tower unexpectedly and quickly re-bonded with his old pal “Pootie” (watch it above), making some quick oil deals while a befuddled Trump looks on. “And then we destroy Vanity Fair, right?,” asks Trump.
“Sure, buddy,” Goodman’s Tillerson mutters.
After the open, Goodman and Baldwin joined first-time host Casey Affleck during the monologue, with Goodman noting that “between the three of us, we’ve hosted SNL 31 times.”
As of 12:15 a.m. ET, the real Trump had not weighed in on the episode. We’ll update should that change, and also add full videos when NBC posts them.