Season finales of Saturday Night Live are more often than not equal parts graduation and reunion for each year’s class of cast members. Even more so, when a former cast member of SNL returns home to host. This year, this 39th season, came to a close with even more at stake financially for Lorne Michaels and his TV roster — he has a new variety show premiering Monday with Maya Rudolph, and nine other hours of late-night programming on NBC to promote with Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen on board. So. Trust that Andy Samberg’s return on Saturday would feel much more like an SNL of three or seven years ago. How much so?
Let’s get to the final recap of the season!
Jay-Z and Solange Message Cold Open: Jay-Z (Jay Pharoah), Beyoncé (Maya Rudolph) and Solange (Sasheer Zamata) address their fans directly about what really happened during that elevator fight, including revealing the footage’s missing audio. Spiders! Kenan Thompson plays Jay-Z’s bodyguard. Bobby Moynihan plays the security guy who supposedly leaked the footage, and guess what: Fair play means showing video of what he does in the elevator, too. Another reminder of why having a diverse cast helps a topical comedy show perform topical comedy!
Andy Samberg’s Monologue: Samberg is quick to let us know his buddy, his pal, Justin Timberlake, will not be making a very special cameo. But that’s not stopping Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and even Martin Short from stopping by during his monologue. Who’s excited for all of Samberg’s recurring characters??? Can you name one? There is at least one, and you’ll see him before the night is done. But first, as Samberg himself notes, he did 100 digital shorts and about six live sketches on the show. “So this is going to go great!” Samberg tries to showcase even more impersonations to best Hader, but how are you supposed to do that?
Seemingly fake ad in the fake ad slot. But no. That’s a real web company. Or some such.
Camp Wicawabe: We’re told it’s 1990. Why is this important? Who knows. Campers Cambria (Aidy Bryant) and Piper (Kate McKinnon) are 10, and their musical sidekick (Kyle Mooney) is only 6. But their guest, Jeremy (Andy Samberg) is 14, so he’s a cool prankster. Discuss!
Digital Short: When Will The Bass Drop? DJ Davvincii (Andy Samberg) kills his crowd with ease. Especially after the bass drops. And Lil Jon yelps, “Get Turned Up To Death!” Explosions!
Confident Hunchback: Fictional history rewritten, as the hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimoto (Andy Samberg) appears to have been quite the player in 1482 Paris. Until confronted by Esmerelda (Cecily Strong) who knows his truth. Whatever. We can see how the premise was sold. But how were you planning on selling us?
Ladies and gentlemen, St. Vincent. This is “Digital Witness.”
I’m looking forward to seeing what Weekend Update does next season, because this season was a misfire. Not that Cecily Strong and Colin Jost are bad at this particular job. I just don’t get any sense of why they want this job and what they plan on doing with it. Anybody can read jokes off a prompter that make fun of the week’s headlines. Why are these two doing it? Make it your own, kids! Otherwise you’re just wasting our time.
Bruce Chandling: Speaking of which, Kyle Mooney plays a veteran New York stand-up comedian, where “veteran” means no longer tells good jokes. So Memorial Day means a full-on bad joke parade. Now who’s depressed?
Get in the Cage: Andy Samberg’s Nic Cage welcomes Paul Rudd as Paul rudd. “Don’t sass me, Clueless!”
Kissing Family with Andy Samberg: Samberg brings the whole Vogelcheck family back together to meet his new boyfriend (Taran Killam). Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd and Kate McKinnon are there, and Maya Rudolph plays the great great grandmother’s nurse. It’s a sloppy kissing mess. Right from the start, Samberg says “fouse” instead of “house.” But it’s Armisen who can’t keep a straight face later. The joke here is how ironic, this way-too-affectionate family cannot handle watching NFL Draft pick Michael Sam kiss his boyfriend. They can’t be serious with this. And they’re not even trying to be. They obviously hope to find their own Carol Burnett moment in this sketch that’s barely written as a sketch; more of a premise, outline, laugh.
Kimye Talk Show: Kim Kardashian (Nasim Pedrad), Kanye West (Jay Pharoah) talk to their wedding planner (Andy Samberg) and Bruce Jenner (Taran Killam), and it’s already ridiculous just sticking to the facts.
Digital Short: Hugs The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer) returns, with a lyrical assist from Pharrell Williams. Tatiana Maslany makes a cameo via phone. Maya Rudloph appears as Oprah to emphasize it’s Hugs, not Drugs. So look for this on the most recent CD from The Lonely Island!
Legolas at Taco Bell: SNL did a couple of these quick-hitters in recent seasons. Take a pop-culture character. Show that character doing something we all do. Then get out of the scene. In this case, it’s Legolas (Andy Samberg) — from “The Hobbit,” we’re told, because if it were from “The Lord of the Rings,” we’d feel differently? — and Gimli (Bobby Moynihan) trying to order fast-food Mexican. Jay Pharoah plays the guy at the counter. White people. And elves. And dwarves. Who are also white people.
Blizzard Man: Here’s that recurring character of Samberg’s you were waiting for?! 2 Chainz enlists the help of fellow rapper Blizzard Man (Andy Samberg) to put the finishing touches on his latest record, even though he’s not very good at rapping. Still. Beck Bennett and Vanessa Bayer play music executives, with Kenan Thompson working the producer knobs. Weird since Samberg just rapped for real a few minutes earlier.
Once again, this is St. Vincent, performing “Birth in Reverse.”
Bvlgari: Former porn stars (Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong) are back for another 5-to-1 sales pitch scam. This time, for Bvlgari watches. Tweedle-Dee (Andy Samberg) and Tweedle-Dong (Kristen Wiig) stop by to help. Guess which one of these formerly conjoined twins kept the penis. Nope. Not the one named dong.
Goodnight, everybody! Andy Samberg raced through all the many names to thank, but gave extra thanks to “Lorne for giving me a career!”
That’s it. No time for more video shorts or sketches that didn’t make it past dress rehearsal. Sorry. Thank you for playing. But that’s it. That’s your season. Hope you enjoyed this very transitional year. Sorry if you didn’t get to see enough of your favorite new cast member. Better luck in September! If they all come back. You think they’ll all come back? One way or another, they always do.