‘Saturday Night Live’ ends its season on a high note with Dwayne Johnson

Saturday Night Live
Dwayne Johnson & Katy Perry
May 20, 2017

Saturday Night Live ended this rollercoaster of a season in the capable hands of the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as host, welcoming him into the increasingly less exclusive Five-Timers club, and saying goodbye to two long-standing cast members, Bobby Moynihan and Vanessa Bayer. And aside from a couple of wild misses (what even was that bar sketch, guys?), the show did right by everyone: Johnson was given material that suits his disarmingly charming nature, and Bayer and Moynihan were in practically every sketch (one or both of them were in 10 of the 15 sketches below). It was a fitting farewell to two of the show’s most dependable performers; it’s just a shame they didn’t receive more recognition in the final credits, Lorne.

When Kate McKinnon opened the show on November 12 as Hillary Clinton and played Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” it was both a mournful and healing act; acknowledging for many people that what had happened on November 8th was a shocking, devastating loss, but also asserting that Hillary’s supporters, the show, and America herself would withstand it. It was one of the most — if not the most — brilliant moments of the season, and will probably be one of the most remembered moments of the series as a whole.

And so, to have Alec Baldwin as Trump and all of his many cronies open the season finale playing the same song — this was genius. They don’t change any of the lyrics, but instead of being a dirge for the loss of progressive ideals and hope, it becomes a song about a bunch of corrupt self-pitying monsters realizing that they are facing impeachment and potentially criminal charges. It’s perfect. Whoever came up with this idea deserves all of the raises.

(The only knock against it is that I kept waiting for McCarthy’s Spicey to join the group — especially when Scarlett Johansson appeared as Ivanka — and it was slightly distracting. But that might have just been me.)

Grade: A++

In his opening monologue, Dwayne Johnson officially announces he is running for president — an idea he’s been teasing on his recent promotional tour for Baywatch — and Tom Hanks is going to be his Vice President. It might have been funnier if this troll we have actually elected as president didn’t make all of these celebrity announcements potentially plausible.

Meanwhile, can we talk about what The Rock is wearing here? Is that an elastic band on the hem of his shirt? No wonder they got that Five-Timers Club jacket on him as quickly as they could.

Grade: B

The first commercial spoof of the night is for a Cartier diamond-encrusted fidget spinner to entertain the irritating woman in your life. It’s funny and Vanessa Bayer does a great job, but it would have been even funnier if it weren’t almost exactly like the “Red Flag” ad from a few years back. I mean, almost beat for beat.

Grade: A-

The WWE promo that becomes very personal very quickly is a surprising highlight of the night. It’s a little long for what it is, but Johnson is in his element here as a dimwitted wrestler who doesn’t realize just how terrible the things he is saying are.

Grade: A

This is a one joke skit — there are too many people on this particular rap track, that’s the entire joke — but it works? Maybe because of the surprise guest on the track?

Grade: A-

In this sketch, The Rock is a superhero, Scorpio, but the women he encounters can’t get over the fact that he made his own superhero costume. It was a hard no from the 16-year-old who was watching the show with me, but I’m not mad at it.

Grade: B

Oh, yay, Gemma’s back. The best part of this sketch is that baby pig.

Grade: C

The second commercial spoof is for a male enhancement drug that is part meth, part rhino horn and has some hilariously unfortunate side effects. And yet, men will still demand it, because: boners.

Grade: A

Look, “Weekend Update” was fine this week. But considering the material they had to work with, it should have been a grand slam. I write about the late night shows every day, and those guys were dealing with this avalanche of news all week, most of which broke MINUTES before they began taping and they all managed to have sharper material than this. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler would have had a FUCKING FIELD DAY with this week — and I know that for a fact because Seth Meyers does on his show every single night.

Grade: B

Vanessa Bayer brings back her mumbly weather girl. It is just not my favorite.

Grade: B-

And Bobby Moynihan does Drunk Uncle one last time. Cheers, Drunk Uncle.

Grade: A+

In this sketch, Vanessa Bayer is a 1940s actress who farts a lot. That’s it. That’s the entire sketch. Farts.

Grade: C-

Here is a classic Saturday Night Live problem: they have a germ of an idea that is inherently funny, true and a little dangerous even, but they have NO IDEA what to do with it or how turn it into a sketch.

For instance, at the root of this sketch is the idea that the fictional evil that supervillains commit in comic books or movies can’t compare to reality-based evil; that a shrink ray might be evil, but it just does not compare to child molestation. And that’s an interesting, uncomfortable idea that feels like a joke from that Truly Tasteless Jokes book that you should not have been reading in the fourth grade. And for a good 3:45 minutes it works. But then it becomes a joke about White Castle because the writers HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING. So many points docked for that ending.

Grade: C+

In this sketch, Beck Bennett is a bartender who keeps trying to set up threesomes for himself and Johnson’s character against Johnson’s character’s wishes. It is terrrrrrrrible.

Grade: Nope.

The final sketch of the night takes place in a high school where a bunch of seniors perform a series of awkwardly unfunny pop-culture sketches. It is painful and not in a good way. Also, what the hell was that ending? It feels like it just fell off of a cliff?

Grade: D

Anyway, here’s Katy Perry’s performance of “Swish Swish” with some amazing drag queens. I refuse to embed that oral sex song because no.

Final grade: B. It would have been higher but for the farting and the threesome nonsense.

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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