Natasha Lyonne hosts an exceptional and emotional ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Natasha Lyonne & Japanese Breakfast
May 21, 2022

It’s almost unfair: Natasha Lyonne is one of my favorites — a wonderful actress and a New York classic, and if she had hosted any other episode, that would be the story. Fortunately, she hosted one of the best episodes of the season. Unfortunately, it was the final episode for four now-legendary cast members: Kyle Mooney; Aidy Bryant; Pete Davidson; and the great Kate McKinnon, who, along with Kennan Thompson, has been carrying this show on her back for ten years now, and that will be what this episode is remembered for. Not that it’s a bad thing: the goodbyes are sweet and funny and well-deserved. I just hope Natasha Lyonne is invited back soon: she had great chemistry with the cast, had terrific comedic timing, and held her own in a challenging episode.

The cold open tonight serves as the first of our goodbyes: it’s the final chapter of Kate McKinnon’s alien abductee/torture victim, Mrs. Rafferty’s saga. Pubic hair and bodily orifices abound. The sketch ends with the Pentagon officials telling the alien abductees that they’ve made an agreement with aliens: their technology for one of the abductees. And Mrs. Rafferty knows how to read the room: it’s her. As McKinnon heads up a UFO ramp, she turns, and tells “Earth” (read: Saturday Night Live and its viewers) “Well, I love ya. Thanks for letting me stay a while,” while becoming visibly choked up. It’s the perfect goodbye for a Saturday Night Live legend.

Grade: A+

First of all, can we talk about how smoking hot Natasha Lyonne is in this monologue? That top! Those pants! Just A+, momma. Anyway, Lyonne delivers a fun, energetic monologue, looking back on her days on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, discussing her 90s moment — and the subsequent drug addiction and arrests. She also brings out ex-boyfriend of seven years, Fred Armisen, and her dear friend Maya Rudolph to do spot-on impersonations of her. It’s kinda all over the place, but thanks to her abundance of charisma, she pulls it off.

Grade: A

There are many, many stupid people in this world, and this PSA is designed to remind you that you are giving them entirely too much power.

Grade: A

Playing on Natasha Lyonne’s strengths (that voice!), this sketch features a pair of 1950s baseball announcers, one of whom is on meth and saying all manner of inappropriate things, including claiming that Babe Ruth ate a child and urging people stuck in traffic to “gun it.” Lyonne plays the meth’d up announcer, with Mikey Day serving as the straight man in a remarkable demonstration of trust in her ability to carry the sketch. Very funny, and great jobs all around. 

Grade: A

The fun couldn’t last forever, alas. Kennan revives his singer Treece Henderson for another painful performance, delving much too deep into his bandmate’s personal life. Somehow, remarkably, this is (at least) the fifth time we’ve been forced to endure these recurring characters.

Grade: C

In this taped piece, a guy looks back at his prom, 20 years later, to discuss what happened to each of his classmates after graduation. Spoiler alert: nothing good. Funny enough, but it could have gone even darker.

Grade: B-

“Weekend Update” tackles monkeypox, the baby formula shortage, Elon Musk’s sex abuse allegations, Steven Seagal, and all other manner of horrors. Unfortunately, largely because the Update desk was being used to say goodbye to two cast members, they did not end the season with a Che and Jost joke exchange.

Grade: A-

Look, I like “Guy Who Just Bought a Boat.” I think the douchebag’s sex puns are funny, especially when he’s making fun of himself. Whaddya gonna do, right?


Grade: B+

Aidy Bryant says goodbye to SNL, the Weekend Update Desk, and her long-time partner-in-crime, Bowen Yang in a return of their “trend forecasters” bit. There’s nothing new here, but points for a sweet sendoff.

Grade: B+

Finally, Pete Davidson returns to the place that made him famous, the “Weekend Update” desk, to say his goodbyes and give his thanks. It’s sweet, just the right amount of sentimental, and funny enough. I never thought I would say this, but I’m going to miss his goblin energy.  

Grade: A

This sketch is ostensibly a mashup of 9 to 5 with Weekend at Bernie’s, in which the 9 to 5 ladies have to manipulate the body of their dead boss. In reality, it’s an exercise in trying to make Natasha Lyonne break. It’s mostly successful.

Grade: B

The final sketch of the night is an advertisement for “grey adult pigtails” for that older woman who wants to show the world that she’s still funky and interesting. If I didn’t know Anna Dreznen hadn’t left the show, I’d have guessed she wrote this one.

Grade: A-

Interestingly, Kyle Mooney doesn’t seem to get a sendoff in the episode, as compared to the obvious goodbyes granted Aidy, Kate, and Pete. And you might be surprised to hear me of all people say this, but I think that’s kind of unfair? While Mooney has never been my cup of tea, he did absolutely have his own voice and left his mark on the show, and maybe one last digital short would have been nice? Maybe they could have brought Leslie Jones back to revive their “romance?” It’s a shame.

Cut for time — but more likely deliberately designed for YouTube so as to not step on his goodbye at the “Weekend Update” desk — is this little love letter to Lorne Michaels from Pete Davidson. Lorne Michaels made Pete Davidson, this scrawny, weird-looking kid from Staten Island, into the world-famous, Kardashian-dating Met-Ball-attending celebrity he is today, and Davidson is clearly very grateful. (As he should be.)

Grade: I don’t usually grade these, but I’m giving it an A+ anyway.

Final Grade: A-. Bye, guys.

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

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