On point and on target, if not quite on fire, “Saturday Night Live” wrapped up its 42nd season with an obsession that has preoccupied the rest of us too: The 45th president.
Hallelujah. Sort of.
The season finale also saw the departure of three cast members, Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan and Sasheer Zamata.
Bayer, who joined seven seasons ago, was the big news, announcing via Instagram late Saturday.
“Thank you ‘SNL’ for 7 years of laughs, love and incredible memories. It has been a dream come true,” she wrote.
No reason was given, but her tenure on “SNL” has been memorable (“Jacob, the Bar Mitzvah Boy”) and packed. She appeared in several sketches last night, too. Bayer is the senior female cast member. Moynihan ends his run at nine seasons.
Moynihan, who reprised his “Drunk Uncle” one last time (“Ghostbusters should be men”) on “Weekend Update,” is joining a CBS sitcom next fall. His departure was expected.
Zamata, the first black woman to join the cast four seasons ago, posted on Instagram Sunday following her final appearance on the show. “Wow. What a fantastic end to a fantastic season, thanks SNL,” she wrote.
The finale’s opening wasn’t exactly expected, however — the Leonard Cohen standard, “Hallelujah” notably, which “SNL’s” Team Trump sang during the cold open, with Alec Baldwin/45 at the keyboard and the rest of the “administration” cast joining in.
But no reason not to have expected this either. Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton also sang it during the cold open in mid-November right after the death of Cohen, and after the election itself. Circumstances were different then, but the melancholy message the same (“There was a time when you let me know/What’s really going on below ...”)
Saturday’s open included McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway, Beck Bennett as Mike Pence, Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr. and Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump. (A few were missing, including John Goodman as Rex Tillerson and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.)
Baldwin/Trump at the keyboard wrapped it up with this: “I’m not giving up. I didn’t do anything wrong. I can’t speak for these people.”
McKinnon’s Nov. 12 cold open — four days after Clinton’s loss — also included these lines: “I’m not giving up and neither should you.”
Dwayne Johnson as host followed by declaring that he had entered the five-timers’ club (his fifth round as host), and welcomed Baldwin on stage.
Said Johnson, “People are talking that I should run for president. I want to put it to rest once and for all: I’m in. I’m running for president of the United States.”
Presidents need running mates, so Johnson chose Tom Hanks — who else? — who arrived on stage and promptly recognized the wisdom of this choice by saying, “I’ve been in two movies where two planes crash and people are still excited to see me on their flight.”
Per Johnson, “Tom, the truth is, America needs us. No one can agree on anything anymore except pizza and us ... I didn’t think I was qualified. Now I think I’m too qualified.”
Hanks: “We need more poise, less noise. America deserves strong, capable leaders who care about this country and its people.”
Johnson: “That sounds like you and me. We gotta do it.”
Was he serious? Who knows? He ended the show with this: “Remember America, in 2020, Johnson/Hanks.”
An erratic season, sometimes great, a little more often not, there is nevertheless a major reason this has been such a huge one for “SNL.” He’s immodest, he’s big — no, he’s huuge. He has a beautiful wife. He talks about himself a lot. He knows exactly what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it.
He’s Alec Baldwin.
His Trump is effective in many ways, admittedly. The hair is perfect, the posture likewise. His perpetual scowl allows nothing that reassembles joy, or good will toward men or women. His hulking form indicates a battle with gravity, as if the Earth wants to pull him in, then under.
What’s best about Baldwin’s Trump, of course, is Baldwin, or the idea of “Baldwin”: A famous multiple-Emmy winner who established the template of the corporate executive buffoon as well as anyone in TV history with “30 Rock’s” Jack Donaghy. Perhaps to Baldwin’s chagrin, he plays blowhards particularly well.
Does “SNL” want him to return next season? Does Alec want to return?
Here’s what he told the Hollywood Reporter for its big outtake last week in advance of the season finale:
“There are many people who do Trump now, and they have different Trumps. They have kind of a ‘balls-of-his-feet-light Trump’ or what I like to call ‘Gene Kelly Trump.’ But my Trump is ‘Miserable Trump.’ No matter what. He wins, he loses, he’s miserable.”
In fact, there’s only one Trump impersonator that anyone’s talking about besides Baldwin — Anthony Atamanuik, the star of “The President Show” on Comedy Central. He’s neither “balls-of-his-feet” nor “Gene Kelly” but he IS the best impersonator out there at the moment. (Baldwin has refused to mention him, or acknowledge him.)
Baldwin told this to the Reporter, too: “Everywhere I go now, it’s, ‘Great Job, Alec!’ It’s every cop on a horse, every hot dog vendor, every squirrel in the park, ‘Thank you.’ Then there’s a smaller band of people, who you can tell are Trump supporters. You get this look and you can just feel the hatred. There were these two construction workers smoking a cigarette on Broadway, and as I walk by, they go: ‘There he is, that (jerk), Alec Baldwin. Doesn’t support our president. Don’t fall in the hole over there, Alec.”
Please don’t, Alec. Lorne would not be happy. Meanwhile, see you next season.