Saturday Night Live returned from a holiday break with a strong combination of host and musical guest in Chadwick Boseman and Cardi B.
Boseman revisited his biggest movie, Black Panther, in two winning sketches. In the first, appearing with Chris Redd and Leslie Jones, he debates the use of the “Wakanda forever” salute by two white fanboys played by Beck Bennett and Pete Davidson. When they use it awkwardly to express their love of the movie, Redd and Jones cringe (“It’s like indigestion, only racial”), balking at the idea of the cultural appropriation. Eventually, though, a barter arrangement is worked out involving Drake and dabbing.
Boseman then stepped back into fully costumed T’Challa mode for the return of “Black Jeopardy,” a recurring sketch on which Tom Hanks had a memorable mark last fall. As host of the game show, Kenan Thompson anchors the concept. It slyly contrasts the broad stereotypes of African-American characters with the African values espoused by T’Challa, whose Wakanda nation in this setting has an especially Disney-esque sparkle. “This is the reason why your cable bill is in your grand mamma’s name,” Thompson says, reading one quiz answer. Boseman-as-T’Challa responds, “What is, ‘To honor her as the foundation of the family?’” Thompson shakes his head. “That’s really nice,” he smiles. “It’s wrong. But that’s really nice.” After another, similarly straight-arrow answer, Thompson decides to give him points even though the answer does not match what’s on his card. “Y’all must have no mean streets in Wakanda,” he marvels.