Natasha Lyonne SNL Finale Recap: Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney & Pete Davidson Say Goodbye

It is a time of transition at “Saturday Night Live” and a monumental night as the venerable late-night staple bid farewell to some of its true titans and future legends.

Just a few days before this final broadcast of the season, it was revealed it would be the final episode for longtime cast members Kate McKinnon (11 seasons), Aidy Bryant (10 seasons), Kyle Mooney (9 seasons), and Pete Davidson (8 seasons).

We’ve speculated for years now about the longevity of this cast and when they would finally start to splinter off, but though it was inevitable, it was still tough to say goodbye to familiar faces who’ve kept us laughing all these years.

We’re not yet certain the exodus will stop here, as there will still be four cast-members beyond the traditional seven seasons that used to dictate TV contracts next season, including “Weekend Update” mainstays Colin Jost (9 seasons) and Michael Che (8 seasons), as well as Cecily Strong (10 seasons) and Kenan Thompson (19 seasons). Will they all stick around, or slip away quietly between seasons? Will anyone else go?

Regardless, by announcing the four departures tonight, it prepared audiences to really appreciate their swan songs, with showcase moments for all of them except for Kyle, who probably preferred it that way. He’s always thrived in those quirky, awkward roles (though we’d have loved to see Leslie Jones carry him off literally at the end, harkening back to their fake behind-the-scenes love story.

Natasha Lyonne was fantastic in her first time hosting. She was the perfect host for a big goodbye episode, as she blended in so well with the ensemble, she could have been part of the cast. Her performances were perfection all night long, punctuated by a hilarious role as a literal dead guy (you have to see it)!

She welcomed Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph to the party, too, though their appearances aren’t quite as random as they may first appear. Fred even dropped by for that “dead guy” sketch to liven things up a bit.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

Talking about her show “Russian Doll,” Natasha gamely quipped, “Two thinks you wanna be associated with right now, Russia and Netflix. There was a beautifully sweet sincerity to her self-deprecating monologue. It was autobiographical in design, talking a little bit about her tumultuous rise, fall and second rise in Hollywood — and then Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen showed up with awkward impressions of Natasha. She and Fred dated for five years, breaking up just last month, while all three worked on a film project together in 2017. Honestly, she didn’t need them because she had classic standup timing and delivery as she joked her way through her life’s greatest hits and gave off a lot of confident charm throughout.

This would turn out to be the last appearances of Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney as cast members, with Kyle playing a bit of an oddball and Kate and Aidy side-by-side pitching something, as they’ve done so many times. The characters they portrayed were also incredibly true stereotypes of that certain type of older woman who says everything you need to know about who she is with her hairstyle (with a male variation for Kyle). Even Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner got in on the phone with a hippy/folk piece to end the night. We appreciated the lady’s individual farewells earlier in the broadcast, but it was nice to get this one chance to say goodbye to all three. Kyle leaving midway through the sketch is so appropriate for his persona, as he’s never bothered to be a big breakout star, preferring his quirky niche pieces that used to always live in the 10-to-1 spot.

Well, someone had to say it. Not everyone is equally intelligent. And if there are smart people, logic would dictate there are also stupid people. Some of those “stupid” people shared their story while reminding us that everyone has a right to vote, including “stupid” people. There were jabs at news junkies who are still stupid, talking about only watching one channel and getting angry. But mostly the PSA seemed to be reminding us all that these people are going to vote, so shouldn’t we make sure all of our voices are heard and not just theirs. Not that it will make much a difference when it comes to who shows up at the polls, but it was pretty funny watching the cast so earnestly portray stupid.

As always, this is a very silly sketch carried by the sheer amount of fun everyone has playing with Kenan Thompson’s Trice Henderson. “Tweedle-dee dum tweedle-dee doze” Natasha Lyonne’s ex is gonna burn Trice’s clothes. We’d have liked a little more interplay between Trice and Kyle Mooney’s keyboardist, who tries to keep him on track, and Kenan wasn’t quite as over-the-top as usual. But with everyone chuckling and trying not to break on stage, this piece was like barely-contained chaos, which made it a lot of fun.

Colin Jost and Michael Che were a little subdued in their delivery at the top of the “Update” broadcast, with Che definitely delivering the harder-hitting jokes with a stronger punch. He got hits in on Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk, and the formula shortage, while Jost fell a little flatter tackling Doug Mastriano winning the GOP ticket for governor in Pennsylvania, Trump’s sketchy endorsement record and what happens when you break up with Taylor Swift.

It seems like the writing just gets tighter and tighter on these pieces. It’s not even so much about the tiny penis asides anymore as it is about the brilliantly dense wordplay and sexual innuendo. His ability with rhyming and timing as second to none, making these some of the most enjoyable pieces to really immerse yourself in. Plus, Alex Moffat is so good at nailing these difficult line deliveries, you can come for the wordplay and stick around for the filthy feeling it leaves you with.

Florida kids spelling the n-word, Mississippi’s obesity problems and why you don’t bother to call for a doctor on Frontier Airlines took up the second segment of jokes. Probably the best bit in this bunch was Jost’s knock at the Catholic church over nuns taking over TikTok — even if we saw it coming a mile away. Of course they talked about the Arby’s manager peeing in milkshakes, and managed to make it a double Arby’s/Subway burn, so props for that. The audience may have groaned, but we liked both of Che’s punchlines about the woman graduating college in her 80s.

A newer piece that was clearly a lot of fun, the in/out with Bowen Yang turned into a sweet showcase and goodbye sketch for Aidy Bryant. She even got to directly address the fact that after ten years she’s leaving, while Bowen talked about how close they’d grown together. It was a sweet moment that got an audience “aww,” but didn’t take away from the ridiculousness of their usual patter. Both were in fine form, playing off of each other and staying in character the whole time.

It was perhaps appropriate, considering this is how we first really met him, that Pete got the most traditional farewell, appearing on “Update” (and the show for the first time in quite a while) live and talking directly to the audience. He had some good digs on himself, per usual, and his crazy life, but mostly had a lot of love and sincerity for how the show stood by him and supported him through some challenging chapters of his young life.

The whole premise of this radio broadcast was that Natasha Lyonne’s ‘50s character had been prescribed this hot new drug to help with the common cold: methamphetamine. She didn’t get violent or unhinged, but she was completely unfettered, sharing obnoxious stories that were outright lies, miscalling the game and generally saying some of the most outrageous things she could think of. Mikey Day, as always, was great trying to rein in her banter, while James Austin Johnson perfectly captured a 1950s ad-man. There was a sweet charm to the sketch, which was held together by Lyonne’s impressive commitment to the ridiculousness of her character and great line deliveries.

While it wouldn’t be her last appearance of the night, this sketch nevertheless served as a surprisingly poignant — and very funny – farewell for Kate McKinnon. Colleen the alien abductee has always been one of her most boundary-pushing, off-color and deeply funny characters and she definitely went out on top with the story of her latest abduction. The twist at the end when she rejoined the aliens served as a goodbye moment for Kate, who got a little emotional as she delivered the final “LFNY” of the season. She went out in great form with the sketch, even managing to crack up Aidy Bryant at one point (but not the unflappable Mikey Day).

A fantastic season-ender, narrated by Andrew Dismukes and featuring just about the entire cast. Set at the senior prom for a 2002 high school class, Andrew’s brilliant delivery underplayed some of the disturbing things he was about to say about his fellow classmates, including Natasha Lyonne’s Rachel Finster. In fact, he pointedly didn’t say anything about her directly, but indirectly she impacted so many lives — in increasingly disturbing ways. The writing was so clever, with his words juxtaposed with slow-motion dancing to share completely different stories about each student. This was a very meaty piece, with lots of great little jokes and commentary throughout, and a beautiful tribute to this sprawling cast. Even better, it had a killer twist ending — which “SNL” isn’t always great at pulling off.

Natsaha Lyonne was clearly having a blast playing a dead guy in this “9 to 5” twist where Heidi Gardner shoots him and they then go “Weekend at Bernie’s” on his dead body. There was a lot of physically inappropriate comedy here that worked because this was all women, with some great characterization by Heidi, Cecily Strong and Ego Nwodim as working women in the 1980s, disrespected by the men around them. But the commentary was definitely second to the physical comedy, which went completely off the rails when the girls were making drinks and Heidi completely lost her balance. The ending was completely unnecessary (and terrible), hurting an otherwise brilliant piece.

While we’ll give props to Cecily Strong and Heidi Gardner for some brilliantly funny work this week, the players of the week have to be a two-way tie between the two women saying farewell this season. Pete Davidson gave us just one goodbye moment, while Kyle Mooney faded into the background, but it was a great night for Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant.

Kate didn’t appear as much, but she made the most of her moments, bringing it to even deeper levels of disturbing with Colleen and her alien abduction story, while closing with a sweet performance alongside Aidy and their gray pigtails. Aidy and Bowen created instant classics with their fashion personas on “Update,” reminding us all how great Aidy is working alongside someone, helping to bring out their best.

You could see the tears on the stage during the goodbyes, with sweet moments from all four leaving cast members and the rest of the ensemble.

Kate Mckinnon will go down as one of the biggest legends of this show. She thrived in this format, managing to bring a believable intensity to her performances. She was passionate in her politics, slaying as Hillary Clinton over the years. She currently stands as the longest-tenured female cast member (with Cecily Strong looming large behind her), and her influence is undeniable.

Aidy Bryant was a subtle force to be reckoned with, pairing her sweet perception with a sultry, sassy and twisted dark side that elevated so man of her roles, constantly subverting our expectations. She helped the women of the cast break ground with her Ted Cruz impressions, and was a strong advocate for body positivity and proof that funny is funny. This has been a renaissance era for women on “SNL” and Aidy (alongside Kate and Cecily) was the glue that held that together.

Kyle Mooney was the oddball that never seemed to have any major breakout characters, though he got some longevity out of comedian Bruce Chandler and, more recently, Baby Yoda. But he seemed to thrive in the weird, the self-deprecating and the sad sack roles, owning the 10-to-1 slot for years with his subversive but always clever sense of humor. He was a quiet but unique voice on the show, never a breakout star, but always a welcome presence.

Pete Davidson is one of the show’s biggest breakout stars, and easily one of its most unlikely superstars. Never strong in sketches, his most famous probably being the dimwitted Chad pieces, Pete shined more as himself during appearances on “Weekend Update.” He got better slowly as an ensemble player, but never fully meshed. And his personal life always outshadowed his “SNL” work — and often the whole show in general. Still, he did a lot for mental health awareness and was always so raw and sincere in sharing his personal story on the air … well, that’s why people fell in love with him.

“Saturday Night Live” returns in the fall for Season 48 with its biggest cast shakeup in years — and the shaking may not be done yet!

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