After a wildly successful 42nd season that culminated in record ratings and six Emmy awards, Saturday Night Live returned for its 43rd run with a season premiere starring Alec Baldwin in his role as U.S. President Donald Trump.
The show’s cold open depicted Trump meeting with his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in his office in the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Dressed in golf apparel, Baldwin’s Trump begins by taking a phone call from Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of the Puerto Rican capital San Juan.
“I’m begging you, Puerto Rico needs your help,” Cruz says, referring to the U.S. territory’s struggles in picking up the pieces after being devastated by Hurricane Maria.
“You’ve called the best person,” Baldwin responds. “I know that things are, as the locals say, despacito,” he says, using the Spanish word for “slowly” — also the name of the mega-hit reggaeton song by Puerto Rican duo Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.
But upon being told that help will arrive “by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest,” a desperate Mayor Cruz pleads with Trump, telling him that the situation is desperate.
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“Well you should’ve paid your bills,” Baldwin retorts.
“Ma’am, I don’t know if you know this but you’re in an island, in the water, ocean water, big ocean, with fishies and bubbles and turtles that bite,” Baldwin says, in a mockery of Trump’s recent comments in which he described Puerto Rico as “an island, surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.”
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“We want to help you but we have to take care of America first.”
Cruz then reminds him that Puerto Rico is in fact a U.S. territory, catching Baldwin off-guard and prompting him to hang up the phone.
At this point, Sanders warns Baldwin that “it’s gonna get worse,” at which point Baldwin praises her for being a sharpshooter, suggesting that this why she outlasted the likes of Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Preibus and Tom Price, all Trump administration officials who either resigned or were fired.
The focus then shifts from Puerto Rico to Trump’s dispute with the NFL over players protesting the national anthem.
“Disgraceful, you know I actually love football. I could’ve played. People say I remind them of an NFL player because I’m combative, I like to win, and I might have a degenerative brain disease,” Baldwin says.
He then reveals that he’s intentionally promoting an environment of chaos and “bending time” to make it difficult for people to focus on any single issue.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, played by Kate McKinnon, then enters the fray
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After praising Sessions for his loyalty, Trump admonishes him for not toeing the line on Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, and for recusing himself from the probe into Russian election meddling.
“I was a bad boy,” Sessions responds, hanging his head. “I should not have recused myself from the Comey calamity, I don’t know, I got spooked.”