Justin Timberlake's Fifth 'Saturday Night Live' Was a Trip Down Memory Lane

So, Justin Timberlake became the first person in the modern era to join the Five-Timers Club last night, both in the records books and in the fictional sketch world of Saturday Night Live. They brought out all the stops for the occasion, including old friends like... The Three Amigos?!

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So, Justin Timberlake became the first person in the modern era to join the Five-Timers Club last night, both in the records books and in the fictional sketch world of Saturday Night Live. They brought out all the stops for the occasion, including old friends like... The Three Amigos?!

Yes, Timberlake is first person to join the legitimate Five-Timers Club since Drew Barrymore (of all people) logged her fifth appearance back in 2007. Is it a coincidence it's been five years since someone joined the Five-Timers Club? Well, yes, but as we predicted they decided to do an official sequel to the classic 1990 sketch that immortalized the group forever:

Just like in the first sketch, Paul Simon is the first legend we see. He, uh, doesn't really know who Timberlake is. Steve Martin is there smoking a pipe, because of course he is. Dan Akroyd is hanging out, but he's only hosted once. He's finding work as a bartender. (Fun facts: he has his own vodka! In real life! It comes in a glass skull.) Chevy Chase and Steve Martin trade some barbs that are almost certainly rooted in real life distaste for each other. (Chase was the butt of a joke in the first Five-Timers sketch.) Martin Short is the waiter this time instead of Jon Lovitz, and Timberlake realizes he's standing next to the Three Amigos! But Short's the only one down to do the salute... for now. Then two bums no one has ever heard of show up. Some guys named Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks. They watch a street fight between Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam fight for their enjoyment. "HOLY @(&#@#* CANDICE BERGEN SHOWED UP," we wrote, when Candice Bergen showed up. That was directly from my notes. Seriously, night made. This was already the year's best episode.

But first, the cold open brought us to Hugo Chavez's funeral where who else but Elton John was singing a specially written tribute song to the departed leader. Timberlake as John ran through a customized "Candle in the Wind," a cultural touchstone most people under 25 probably wouldn't even understand. Fred Armisen drinking a glass of milk as a Venezuelan official? You laughed, don't lie. But apparently the video isn't online, probably because they'd have to pay for the "Candle in the Wind" backing track. Sorry 'bout it.

The first sketch of the night saw Bobby Moynihan outgunned and outnumbered fighting for Vanessa Bayer's affections on a Bill Hader-hosted dating show. (Would we watch that show every week? Yes, yes we would.) His competition: Timberlake and Andy Samberg as the "Dick-in-a-Box" guys, and Akroyd and Martin as the "Wild and Crazy Guys." Yes, the Wild and Crazy Guys showed up. In 2013. It was awesome, though. Samberg and Timberlake are 2013's version of the classic Martin and Akroyd characters. Obviously, Bayer chooses the foursome instead of the boring plainness of Moynihan's normal person.

And the retreading of old things continued into the next sketch. It was a theme all night! Timberlake's veganville tofu-salesman comes out competing with Moynihan's sausage salesman. (Moynihan got a huge vote of confidence in the first half of this episode. He was prominently featured in three of the first four sketches, more than any other current cast member.) Anyway, Timberlake runs through vegan-inspired parodies of Chic's "Le Freak," Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby," Rihanna's "We Found Love," Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself," and Trinidad Jame$' "All Gold Everything." Timberlake was about to convert Moynihan's sausage salesman to his cause when the sketch just abruptly becomes... a "Harlem Shake" video. C'mon, SNL, this is how you end this sketch? There was almost a STORY with a BEGINNING and a MIDDLE and an END, but instead you did this? You're not supposed to flaunt your weaknesses so boldly. Again, this is not available online because of copyright issues. This time perhaps it's for the best.

As a boy, we're terrified to say anything about the "Nuvabling" commercial parody besides the fact that it was nice to see the show remember its extremely strong female cast members exist. Well, not all of them. Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Kate MacKinnon and Cecily Strong were here. Nasim Pedrad was the odd woman out. But they all got to bring it in a sketch that had me dying with laughter and now let's move on before something terrible goes wrong. This was funny. Very funny. This sketch will be on Strong and Bryant's Best Of on-demand specials in 2019.

Justin Timberlake had some help for his first performance. You might recognize him.

They quite literally pulled out all the stops for this episode, which again probably made it one of the best of the year. Besides Chase, Martin, Short, Akroyd, Samberg and Candice 'The Boss' Bergen showing up, they also brought out Stefon. We're going to line up for the "Selfie" door right now. We hear you have to Snapchat the doorman just to get in.

Speaking of jokes only old people are going to get, they did a Caligula sketch? Because that movie came out over thirty years ago. Except this Caligula is sober, so there's no booze and no freaky sex. Sorry, horse head dude. Timberlake's Caligula apologizes for all the horrible, disgusting things he's done to people in the throes of passion over the years. Like eating their testicles and peeing on them! But his subjects aren't really pleased with his new attitude. They'd rather bang each other and stuff.

They brought back the "Maine Justice" sketch, which was kind of weird the first time because it took a few minutes to get what was happening. But now that we know the joke it was a lot better this time. It was also the first time Jason Sudeikis appeared on screen this week. We were wondering if his departure from the show was trying to be masked by all the guest stars this week. But his judge and Timberlake's bailiff preside over the southern courtroom this week, with Samberg returning as the defendant. This version of Maine Justice was ten times stranger than the first iteration of the sketch. Timberlake fed chowder to a gator judge. And then a southern parade strolled through the court.

Normally we don't include the performer videos but Justin Timberlake is just so pretty. Also, he got the Three Amigos salute he wanted earlier. Worth it? Definitely worth it.

Nasim Pedrad eventually showed up in this romantic comedy parody trailer. It would have helped if it was funny, though.

This was another sketch they'd done before that wasn't very great the first time but really killed the second time around. Sometimes familiarity helps a joke, but that still doesn't excuse why they brought Gilly back so often.

Final thoughts on the night: the episode was very familiar. It was filled with familiar faces doing familiar things. Timberlake, the most celebrated host of the last decade, doing old Timberlake characters. Old SNL veterans doing old SNL characters. Hader doing Stefon. Even the second half sketches were retreads of old second half sketches from the last two seasons. But oh well, it was great, and we enjoyed it. It wasn't as terrible as it could have been -- most of the sketches made us laugh, and that's why we tune in. But we're going to welcome the next episode, not scheduled until April 9 with Melissa McCarthy hosting, when the real cast will get a few more opportunities to shine. That said...

Who wouldn't want to go to that after party?

[Correction: in the "It's a Date" sketch we initially incorrectly identified Vanessa Bayer as Kate MacKinnon. We regret the error.]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.