Pete Davidson apologized on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend to Dan Crenshaw, the former Navy SEAL and newly elected Representative he mocked last week in a widely criticized “Weekend Update” segment. In a surprise cameo, Crenshaw appeared alongside Davidson to take a few humorous potshots of his own and then, more earnestly, to try to find some common ground.
During a segment last week about 2018 political candidates, Davidson spoke in front of a picture of Crenshaw, a Texas Republican who wears an eye patch because of an injury he sustained from an I.E.D. explosion in Afghanistan. “You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie,” Davidson said. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”
Davidson’s remarks were denounced by elected officials and political organizations like the National Republican Congressional Committee, which called for an apology. In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Davidson’s castmate Kenan Thompson said the joke “missed the mark.” For his part, Crenshaw said in his victory speech on Tuesday that Americans “are not a people that shatter at the first sign of offense.”
In this week’s episode, which was hosted by Liev Schreiber and featured the musical guest Lil Wayne, Davidson returned to the “Weekend Update” desk. Referencing the controversial joke, he began by saying: “In what I’m sure was a huge shock for people who know me, I made a poor choice last week.”
He added: “I mean this from the bottom of my heart. It was a poor choice of words. The man is a war hero, and he deserves all the respect in the world. And if any good came of this, maybe it was that for one day, the left and the right finally came together to agree on something. That I’m a [expletive].”
Crenshaw then took a seat next to Davidson and said, “You think?”
Davidson told him, “Thank you so much for coming.”
“Thanks for making a Republican look good,” Crenshaw replied.
Davidson told Crenshaw he was sorry, and Crenshaw accepted, but then suddenly Crenshaw’s cellphone rang: His ringtone was “Breathin’,” a song by the pop star Ariana Grande, who just last month became Davidson’s ex-fiancée. Davidson took the joke in stride as Crenshaw asked him, “Do you know her?”
And as Davidson did to Crenshaw last week, the representative-elect made jokes about a picture of the comedian. (“This is Pete Davidson. He looks like if the meth from Breaking Bad was a person.” And, later, “He looks like a troll doll with a tapeworm.”)
In a more serious tone, Crenshaw added:
There’s a lot of lessons to learn here. Not just that the left and right can still agree on some things. But also this: Americans can forgive one another. We can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other. This is Veterans Day weekend. Which means that it’s a good time for every American to connect with a veteran. Maybe say, “Thanks for your service.” But I would actually encourage you to say something else. Tell a veteran, “Never forget.” When you say “never forget” to a veteran, you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them — not separated by some imaginary barrier between civilians and veterans, but connected together as grateful fellow Americans who will never forget the sacrifices made by veterans past and present. And never forget those we lost on 9/11, heroes like Pete’s father. So I’ll just say, Pete, never forget.
“Never forget,” Davidson said, and the two men shook hands. Davidson then turned to the audience and shouted: “And that is from both of us!”
Cold Open of the Week
In its opening sketch, “S.N.L.” lampooned the abrupt departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was replaced on Wednesday by his former chief of staff Matt Whitaker, who will serve as acting attorney general.
Kate McKinnon, as Sessions, lamented that she was not prepared to be pushed out of office. “I don’t understand how Mr. Trump could replace me with Matt Whitaker,” she said. “He’s just a shady businessman with no experience who’s blindly loyal to Donald Trump. O.K., hearing it out loud, that made sense.”
McKinnon gathered mementos from her office, including her bible (“I justified a lot of bad things with this book,” she said) and a trophy she described as “the N.A.A.C.P.’s first ironic award.” She was visited by Vice President Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump (Mikey Day and Alex Moffat) and the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (Robert De Niro), who gave her what she described as “a piece of toilet paper from the bottom of Trump’s shoe” — a gift she said she would treasure.
“You’re a weird little dude, Jeff,” De Niro said.
Weekend Update Jokes of the Week
At the “Weekend Update” desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che riffed on the results of the midterm elections.
The midterm elections were on Tuesday, and like a scorned wife after a bitter divorce, the Democrats took back the House. So now the Democrats control the House, and the Republicans control the Senate. But none of that really matters since Donald Trump still controls the White House, the Judiciary, the military, all media coverage, space, time and our ability to perceive reality.
Senator Ted Cruz was able to retain his Senate seat by beating popular challenger Beto O’Rourke, despite Beto running a campaign of garlic and crosses. I do think O’Rourke is going to run for president, though. Because he’s got everything the liberals love. Great speeches, great looks, and he loses elections. I will say, my favorite story in this midterm is Stacey Abrams who is in a runoff for governor with Brian Kemp. This is a black woman running against a white man in Georgia, who’s also in charge of the election. That’s amazing. That’d be like beating LeBron at home if he was also the ref.
Appeals for Unity of the Week
Previewing the conciliatory tone that “S.N.L.” would try to strike throughout this episode, Schreiber used his opening monologue to celebrate the midterm elections without appealing to partisanship.
“Before we start the show,” Schreiber said, “I just want to say that this has been a truly incredible week for me.” It wasn’t just getting to host “S.N.L.,” he explained, but the feeling he got from witnessing Tuesday’s election.
Before we ramp up the rhetoric again, can we just take a minute to revel in the fact that over 100 million people got off their butts and voted? That’s the highest voter turnout for a midterm election in history of this country. So regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, whether you feel like you won or you lost, what that number says to me is that we showed up. We showed up because we care. We care about our children, and we care about our country.
Schreiber’s monologue was followed later by a taped music video in which the “S.N.L.” cast members explained that, even in a politically polarized country, Americans could still join to hate the small things together: pet peeves like warm public toilet seats, guys who make loud sounds at the gym and airplane pilots who interrupt your movies to talk about the wind speed.
Biting the Hand That Feeds You of the Week
The modern medium of podcasting was not-so-lovingly sent up in a fake awards show called the Poddys, hosted by Sarah Koenig of “Serial” (played by Cecily Strong) and The Times’s own Michael Barbaro of “The Daily” (played by Schreiber).
The show went on to celebrate such seemingly familiar programs as “the preppy liberal podcast ‘Bros Save Politics’” and “Blood Feud: The Cocaine Graveyards of Mexico.” It also gave out awards in categories like Most Jarring Transition into a Sponsor and Best Nervous White Girl in a Place She Doesn’t Belong.