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SNL’s cold open: Trump, John Goodman as Rex Tillerson, and a shirtless Putin celebrate Christmas

Two plan to take over the world; the other one just wants to complain about Vanity Fair.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Russia was in the news again this week after President Obama vowed to retaliate against the country for cyberattacks it carried out during the 2016 presidential election, cyberattacks that potentially helped Donald Trump win. This didn’t go unnoticed by Saturday Night Live, which dedicated the cold open of its final episode of 2016 to Alec Baldwin’s Trump receiving a special visit by a shirtless Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett).

Putin arrives Santa Claus–style, emerging from Trump’s gilded chimney to express how happy he is that Trump won the election and to present the president-elect with a dubious-looking “Elf on the Shelf” doll (“it’s fun, you just put it right here, next to your internet router, and keep it there all year!”).

“Vladimir, I did not know you were coming, so I do not have a gift for you,” Trump says.

“Please Mr. Trump, you are the gift,” Putin responds.

Putin and Trump also discuss whether it’s a good idea for them to be seen together (Trump initially says they shouldn’t, then immediately changes his mind once Putin shallowly praises his intellect). But the real treat of the cold open comes when Rex Tillerson arrives, as SNL brought in surprise guest John Goodman to play the role of Trump’s appointed secretary of state.

“Pootie!” he says, mocking the Exxon Mobil CEO’s close relationship with Russia. Tillerson and Putin exchange a dance and special handshake of joy. “Oh, my stars, Donald, you didn’t tell me Pootie was going to be here!”

The two get down to business, talking about their future plans for oil production and trade, and ignoring Trump as if he’s a clueless toddler.

“As soon as the sanctions are lifted, we’ll up our intake by 30 percent,” Tillerson says.

“And then we destroy Vanity Fair, right?” Trump tries to interject, completely uninterested in the pair’s discussion of global domination and seemingly only concerned with destroying the magazine that recently gave his restaurant a negative review.

The sketch showcased what SNL believes to be the three men’s biggest priorities: the sabotage of an entire country (Putin), oil deals (Tillerson), and what our president-elect wants most — to take down anyone who makes fun of him.

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