"Saturday Night Live" took a page from Charles Dickens in its cold open as Alec Baldwin returned to the show as President Trump in an opening sketch inspired by "A Christmas Carol."
"SNL" skewered the news that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump was visited by Flynn in chains, in the guise of Jacob Marley ("the ghost of witness flipped"), and by the ghosts of Christmas past (Billy Bush), present (Vladimir Putin) and future (Hillary Clinton).
"Can you believe I got fired just for listening to you?" Bush asked Trump, a reference to the now-infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" outtake that led to Bush's ouster from "Today" in October 2016. Referencing the downfall of "Today" anchor Matt Lauer earlier this week, Bush added: "I'm looking pretty good in the NBC News division right now."
Kate McKinnon made two appearances in the cold open, first as Kellyanne Conway and again as Clinton. Cecily Strong limned Melania Trump, spoofing the first lady's artsy White House holiday decorations that generated much commentary this week.
Clinton told Trump she was enjoying long-delayed "sexual gratification in the form of your slow demise," and then chanted "Lock him up."
Trump closed the sketch by vowing to change his ways. "I know what I need to do -- erase Seasons 1-14 of 'The Apprentice' and fire Robert Mueller," he said.
As many fans predicted, the opening monolog revolved around the pronunciation of host Saoirse Ronan's unusual name. "If my name was a 'Wheel of Fortune' puzzle, you couldn't afford it," the Irish actress joked. Musical guest U2 added another touch of Erin to the show.
"SNL" served up a pointed segment in the form of a music video from a cloying girl group for a tune dubbed "Welcome to Hell." The tune -- delivered by Ronan, Strong, McKinnon, and "SNL" trouper Aidy Bryant -- made reference to the extraordinary wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations against prominent figures. Leslie Jones also popped in to assert that harassment issues "are like a million times worse for women of color."
The "Weekend Update" segment focused on the fate of the tax reform bill that was narrowly passed by the Senate early Saturday as well as Flynn and the fate of the Mueller investigation.
Anchor Colin Jost noted that tax reform was a victory for Trump "but he might not be president long enough to sign it." Anchor Michael Che observed that the rushed passage of the Senate bill, which was complete with handwritten amendments, was akin to "your family showing up at your hospital room and saying 'You need to sign this will tonight.' "
"SNL's" newscast also referenced Lauer's firing from "Today," including the detail from Variety's Nov. 29 story that Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy. "I guess I should return the secret Santa gift I got for Colin," Che deadpanned.
McKinnon also popped into "Weekend Update" as British prime minister Theresa May, a riff on the Twitter scolding that May gave Trump this week after he retweeted anti-Muslim videos from a British hate group.
Famed tennis player John McEnroe made a cameo appearance in a later sketch involving the auction of a bachelor at a tennis club fundraiser.