Saturday Night Live
Anya Taylor-Joy & Lil Nas X
May 22, 2021
This was the finale episode for a very strange season of Saturday Night Live, in which, as the cast notes in the cold open, we experienced the end of the world, and yet they kept putting on shows. And it would appear they saved the best episode of the season for last. With a full, and full-throated, audience for the first time all season and hosted by the impossibly glamorous Anya Taylor-Joy who was able to show off her formidable comedy chops (seriously, go watch Emma), the show was fairly consistent and did not have a single sketch I felt deserved side-eye.
Instead, the episode played like a nostalgic and heartfelt goodbye to some of the show’s most famous cast members. It’s rumored that this is Cecily Strong’s last episode; Colin Jost has been making noise about wanting to leave after this season; and Pete Davidson all but said farewell on “Weekend Update.” It was also hard to miss Kate McKinnon holding back tears in the cold open while standing next to Strong, Kenan Thompson, and Aidy Bryant, the show’s four longest-tenured cast members. All four have outside projects that they’ve been working on of late, so it would not be shocking to see one or all of them fly out of the SNL nest this year. Still, they are easily the four strongest performers on the show, and it won’t be the same without them. If it is their final episode, I’m pleased it was such a good one.