I finally got a chance to catch up on what we all now know was Kristen Wiig’s final episode in her 7-season SNL career (cue the tears). Let’s dig in and see if her final showing was all we hoped it would be.
Cold Open: Surprise! Special guest Jon Hamm steps in as the latest smitten male lead of the fan favorite Lawrence Welk Show sketch—this time as a wonderfully stereotypical Italian, shouting phrases like “Mamma mia! Chef Boyardee!” Kristen’s Dooneese doesn’t disappoint, and the skit ends with quite a plot twist. Isn’t love beautiful when it’s gross? And Kristen, Jon, and Fred all get to say Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!
Monologue: For whatever reason I really wasn’t expecting much from Mick Jagger’s monologue, but it was actually really funny. He delivered all his lines well, and I laughed out loud several times—“You’re about to see me do what I do best: stand still and talk,” or when he admitted his biggest regret was not taking the restaurant Ruby Tuesday up on their offer of a lifetime supply of jalapeno poppers.
Secret Word: Kristen’s Mindy Elise Grayson is up to her usual antics of being everyone’s favorite worst game show contestant, accompanied by Mick as a wildly flamboyant action movie star. In the vein of saying goodbye to Kristen’s Old Hollywood characters, I would have preferred a Vincent Price special, but this will do.
Karaoke: High five to whoever wrote this sketch, because it was a perfect use of Mick Jagger. Having one character being the voice of reason and denying that the crazy karaoke singers sound like Mick Jagger would’ve been a solid premise already, but having Mick play that character had the audience roaring.
SNL Digital Short: Lazy Sunday 2: Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg once again prove they are the most hardcore rappers to ever enjoy a simple lazy Sunday consisting of a Sister Act performance and flipping up binocs because they’re cultural mavens. Most puzzling to me was Andy’s ending line, “That’s how it began, and that’s how I’mma finish it!” Does this mean Andy’s leaving? Or maybe the end of digital shorts? Or maybe they were just really searching for something to rhyme with “penmanship.”
Politics Nation: Wall Street: What exactly makes a reverend qualified to discuss and argue politics on a national broadcast? We’re not sure either, as Kenan Thompson’s Reverend Al Sharpton tries to get to the bottom of the London whale (is it a beached whale??), jobs as an MTA exterminator, and salmon
Mick Jagger: Because he’s Mick Jagger, Mick performed three songs for the night and brought in three of his favorite current artists to perform with him: first, “The Last Time” with Arcade Fire, a medley with Foo Fighters, and “Tea Party” with Jeff Beck. All the performance were good, but certainly the one that received the most attention was “Tea Party,” which Jagger introduced as a blues song he wrote about the election, which was essentially a bluesy protest against rich Republicans and Mitt Romney in particular. Also featured in the song was Mick saying “s—” on network television. Live TV!
Weekend Update: The topical jokes were solid; my favorite one was for Yankee Candles new Man Candles line: “For when you just want a night with the guys…by candlelight.” But most of the segment went to NYC correspondent Stefon. For a character that recurs so much, you’d think there’d be some people groaning that he’s overplayed, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone make that complaint. It’s probably due to Bill Hader and John Mulaney’s fantastic writing, and the fact that John consistently surprises Bill with new lines on air. This week in New York you can find a hate speech haven, furtlenecks, a woman with nowhere to turn, Jewish fireworks (the ones that go byoooooooo….ehhh,” Gingamin Franklin, and a human R2D2—you know, when a midget on roller skates dials on speaker phone and you put a garbage can over their head.
So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival: Only this cast could make such a simple, almost lame, premise so funny. Kristen, Bobby Moynihan, and Taran Killam were great as Stoned People Dancing at Bonnaroo and Bill played a great host as Dave Matthews (and his almost breaking made it even better). I wasn’t really a fan of Abby Elliott’s Jewel impression, but when Fred (as Santana) lifted up his hat and reveals that his mustache is attached to it by string…I could not stop laughing.
The Californians: In the second installment of this new soap opera parody (first shown in Josh Brolin’s episode earlier this year), blondes, specific driving instructions, and drama reign once again. Mick’s character ups the ante with a classic soap opera announcement, and Steve Martin makes a surprise appearance as a lost amnesiac. Fred’s repeated line of “Whaduryoudooinghereuh??” gets me every time.
She’s a Rainbow: In an effort to pull the rug out from under us, the bit starts like it’s a normal sketch with Mick presiding over a graduation commencement, and then suddenly off come the graduation gowns and out comes Arcade Fire and Kristen is pulled on stage (rocking a peplum shirt like it ain’t no thang) as one by one the cast members come to dance with her and say their goodbyes. Given the fact that I watched this a week late I already knew it was coming, but it was still just as emotional, especially as Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis took their turns with the new SNL “graduate.” Easily the most emotional dance was when Lorne Michaels come out to dance with Kristen. All of this segued right into the goodnights, with even more guests coming out to hug Kristen (Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch included).
Overall: The episode itself was really good; I don’t think there was a single sketch I didn’t enjoy. I’m glad they had an official send-off for Kristen and it was all just wonderful. My only disappointment: couldn’t we have had just one last Two A-Holes sketch??
MVP: Obviously Kristen. I’m so excited to see what Kristen will do next, but I will miss her immensely from the show. The very first episode of SNL I actually sat down and watched was coincidentally her second show to be on, so my regular SNL viewing has literally just been following Kristen’s career from the beginning. She is a wonderful, wonderful comedienne and has truly made a lasting impact on SNL, which is no small feat given how many people come in and out of SNL. Kristen, I just think you’re great.
One to Watch: Again, obviously, the one to watch this week is Kristen’s farewell montage. Bring Kleenex. As a bonus, check out the SNL Backstage Blog’s collection of Kristen’s greatest moments from this season.
Readers, how did you like Kristen’s last episode?
Watch new episodes of Saturday Night Live next season on Saturdays on NBC at 11:30/10:30c. Tonight’s episode on May 26 is a rerun episode with host Josh Brolin and musical guest Gotye.
All images property of NBC.