Here we are: The “Saturday Night Live” Season 42 finale. What a long, strange trip it’s been, huh? Hard to believe it was only last fall that we watched the Chicago Cubs dance up on the female cast members, or wondered if Dave Chappelle meant it when he asked us to give President Trump a chance. A lot of songs, impressions, and parodies-so-on-the-nose-they-hurt later, and another season of “SNL” is in the bag. Last night, we bade farewell to longtime cast members Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan — evidently, Kenan Thompson will stick around until someone remembers he doesn’t have to be there — and inducted host Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson into the Five Timers’ Club. Let’s take a look at the finale!
Host: Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson is a large, magical man, all muscles and teeth and charisma. For his fifth time hosting, what did you expect? He was great! Over the course of 90 minutes, the actor formerly known as The Rock wore hilariously bad wigs, announced his candidacy for President with VP pick Tom Hanks, cradled Vanessa Bayer during a bathroom humor sketch, and generally made us love him all the more. Big, handsome hunks aren’t also supposed to be humble and funny, but that’s part of what makes Dwayne Johnson so special.
It was a busy episode that required a ton of costume changes, navigating guest stars, and some high-tech stunts, and our host handled the timing with ease. He also knew it wasn’t all about him — a finale is special, and two longtime cast members were prepping to leave — and graciously ceded the floor. Uh, vote Johnson in 2020?
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Best Female Performer: Vanessa Bayer
Vanessa Bayer, we’ll miss you. It’s rare to find a performer who excels at both the chipper idiot and awkward straight woman roles. Last night, she had ample screen time, and the hoots and hollers from the audience at Dawn Lazarus were heartwarming. Bayer beamed and vamped, did the best she could with a fart gag, and overall, went out on a high note. Mazel Tov.
Best Male Performer: Bobby Moynihan
It’s hard to believe we’ve seen the last of his slurring, addled Drunk Uncle, or freakishly enthusiastic Guy Fieri, or literally anything else because oh man, Bobby Moynihan has been on the show for a long time. He hasn’t been as high profile in this season as he has been in others, so it was nice to see him flex for one last ride. Literally, flex, up against The Rock.
Best Impression: Literally Everyone In The “Hallelujah” Cold Open Redux
In a surprising move, “SNL” opened its finale with a sketch that echoed the most poignant, painful cold open in recent history. Unlike the post-election episode, however, which opened with a lonely McKinnon as Hillary Clinton at a piano, the finale brought back everyone from “SNL’s” Trump administration. From cast members to guest stars, the performers crowded onto the stage, each one perfectly embodying the lunatic they do best. It’s weird and funny and moving, a fitting close to a strange season/year on Earth. Oh, and look closely — Baldwin’s Trump is definitely wearing a Russia pin.
Worst Sketch Of The Night: Wingman
It’s the last episode of the year, so we’ll try to keep it positive. This sketch could have been funny. It does have potential. Something about it is just “off.” There needed to be a better twist, perhaps – maybe The Rock should have been the unwelcome bartender, and Beck Bennett cast as the shy one? In the end, the writers just didn’t do enough with it; it feels like an uncomfortable vignette from real life, as opposed to an “SNL” sketch.
Best Parody: Cartier Fidget Spinner
This commercial parody — reminiscent of 2011’s “Red Flag Perfume” with Kristen Wiig — is just delightful. It nails the over-the-top nature of jewelry commercials, peppers in a hint of “Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started Talking To At A Party,” and adds a dash of the must-have item of the week. You know the subject of this commercial. You might even be friends with her. And her boyfriend would totally buy her a Cartier Fidget Spinner, too.
Sketch Most Likely To Go Viral: Erectile Dysfunction
The second, superior commercial parody of the night was “Erectile Dysfunction,” and if Dwayne Johnson ever chooses to run for President for real, the opposing party is going to have a field day with it. This wonderfully dark take on macho ED ads stars The Rock, of course, as a construction worker, of course, who explains exactly what went down at his doctor’s office.
Best Sketch Of The Night: Weekend Update
Well, would you look at that! After a year of ups and downs, problematic bits and awkward rapport, Weekend Update finally hit its stride with seconds left on the clock. It’s an odd formula, having co-anchors Jost and Che appear on Update and little else, and it hasn’t always worked in “SNL’s” favor. But just last night, it did.
The jokes were sharp, frequent, and delivered well. Che may have mumbled at the beginning, but Jost held it together, and neither took too much time to laugh at the news’ punch lines — or each other. (After all, camaraderie is an integral part of Update’s success, but when it comes at the expense of the segment’s success, it’s just tiring.) Update was funny! Legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. And it covered a broad range of topics, too.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the sketch’s inclusion of fan favorites Dawn Lazarus and Drunk Uncle. (Both sketches have been included earlier on this list, to be appreciated on their own.) It’s hard to believe we’ve seen the last of Moynihan and Bayer on Update, and we’re glad the last one was worthy of them both.
BONUS: Oh God, They Brought Back David S. Pumpkins
Historically, “SNL” does a cute, whole-cast send off during the finale; picture Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon’s iconic “Summer Lovin,’” or when host Will Ferrell led the cast in “Goodnight, Saigon.” Wait, and Kristen Wiig departed to “She’s A Rainbow” in 2012 — are they always musical? Anyway, the Season 42 cast’s last hurrah arrived in the form of a rap video where the emcees overfloweth. And there was one very special permed guest.
We did it! That’s a wrap on ‘SNL’ Season 42, folks. We’ll see you back here in the fall.