'Saturday Night Live' Recap: 5 Most Memorable Sketches From the Brendan Gleeson/Willow Episode

Colin Farrell made a surprise appearance in an episode that poked fun at the Try Guys, the new featured players, and Ariel, the little mermaid.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

From left to right: Willow, Brendan Gleeson, and Chloe Fineman in 'Saturday Night Live'


Another episode of Saturday Night Live Season 48, another acclaimed actor making his hosting debut. 

The second episode of the season brought Brendan Gleeson to Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, New York City, N.Y. Along with him was WILLOW (fka Willow Smith), who served as the musical guest.

Gleeson used his opening monologue to tell the audience if they don't recognize him, he's "that fellow that you've seen in that thing you can't remember but you think you kind of like." Of course, that could be anything from Braveheart, to In Bruges, to Harry Potter, and The Comey Rule. Gleeson played Donald Trump on that latter Showtime limited series, but it was not a role he reprised on the NBC late-night sketch series, despite the former president being an almost weekly character on it during the past six years.

Gleeson pulled out a ukulele to strum and share wisdom, and he also told stories about working multiple times with Colin Farrell, who then joined him on stage to banter and sing a quick line about the fun of hosting SNL.

"Who's your favorite co-star you've ever worked with?" Farrell asked Gleeson.

"Paddington Bear," Gleeson replied, deadpan.  

Later in the episode, Farrell returned to be a part of a sketch in which Gleeson played a grandfather who is discovered by a headshot photographer. Every pose he delivered exciteed the photographer, delivering a noiseless masterclass in emoting. Farrell accidentally walked in on the session, and the photographer immediately tossed him into the shoot.

WILLOW performed "curious/furious" off the just-released COPINGMECHANISM album as her first song of the episode and followed it up with "ur a (stranger)" as her second.

Read on for the most memorable sketches of the episode.

'So You Think You Won't Snap'

This week the cold open sketch was not a political one, but rather another new fictional game show, this time hosted by Bowen Yang and titled "So You Think You Won't Snap." The conceit of the game was presenting average Americans with sentences from real-world news to see what would be too much for them because, let's face it, things have been pretty bad for a while now, but perspective on what is bad may vary depending on the person in the hot seat. So, in some ways, this sketch was still political, just not overtly so. The topics ranged from the bridge explosion in Ukraine, to how many kids say they want to be influencers when they grow up, to 401Ks being down 20%, Kanye West's comments about Lizzo and reading, and simply stating Elon Musk's name.

Meet the new featured players

Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, and Devon Walker are the new featured players on this season of SNL, and they got the spotlight in a behind-the-scenes style featurette sketch. Well, mostly Kearney stole the spotlight. The sketch started out with them all talking about what it's like to be new on the show; the great gifts from former cast members, the excitement, even if you're not in many sketches right away; and how supportive executive producer Lorne Michaels is. All of their stories gradually got worse as the sketch went on, but Kearney's took the biggest turn, though, as they shared that Michaels gave her a gun and the job of killing Vladimir Putin.

"I get a call in the middle of the night. It's former Secretary of State John Kerry, and he said, 'Come on, can you be here in 10 minutes with your bags packed?'" they said. "'It's John Kerry, Bill Gates, and, weirdly, Kelly Ripa. We're inside. We can get you to Russia, but we can't promise we can get you out.' And I really want to be on SNL so I'm just nodding my head, saying, 'Anything you say sir.'"

At the end of the sketch it turns out Kearney was not the only cast member to be given such a task, as Kenan Thompson revealed he was responsible for killing Osama bin Laden.

Why a mermaid is not a role model

The Little Mermaid gets a lot of flack for being about a young girl who literally gives up her voice so she can meet a prince, only that's a bit reductive because long before she knew of Prince Eric specifically, she dreamed of being a part of the humans' world and no one should be shamed for dreaming big. But anyway, "Weekend Update" offered additional reasons for why Ariel is problematic, using the recent racist uproar over the upcoming live-action version of the film starring a Black actor (Halle Bailey) as an entry point to hear Ariel's side of the story. 

Ego Nwodim played Ariel and called herself out for not being a suitable role model for reasons that include (but are not limited to) that she comes from privilege (her father is literally the king of the sea, remember) and she used to ride around on seahorses, which are just poor people; she is pro-Sea World; and she supported the War on Iraq because she was mad about 9/11.

Fake blood and breaking

Right after a commercial break that featured an ad for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, SNL delivered a sketch parodying such period-piece epics, titled Ancient Empires. Set in 500 B.C., two tribes have been at war for years, but now rulers played by Day and Gleeson were ready to come together against a common enemy.

Unfortunately, Gleeson's character cut himself a bit too deeply for their blood oath, stealing the focus from the plan they needed to create in order to survive, both in him cutting in to talk about it and also covering the map and the others in the meeting with his blood. It was an opportunity for the show to play with a blood-squirt device, which of course in turn created opportunity for actors in the sketch to break. 

Saturday Night Live airs live coast to coast at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT Saturdays on NBC.