Dwayne Johnson and Katy Perry closed out SNL’s Forty-Second Season with a packed episode that nodded to some of the biggest moments of the season and allowed NBC’s sketch comedy to end the year on a positive note.
The Rock became the eighteenth member of the show’s Five-Timer’s Club just one week after Melissa McCarthy became the newest member of the select group of hosts. Johnson last hosted the show in 2016. In his monologue Johnson was joined by fellow Five-Timers Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin. The three toyed with the idea of a Johnson-Hanks presidential ticket, with both referencing their movie careers as a way to entice voters.
The Finale opened with Alec Baldwin “playing” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on a grand piano. As the song progressed he was joined by SNL cast members and Scarlett Johansson playing familiar members of the Trump entourage. A reference to Kate McKinnon’s post-election Cohen serenade and the seasonlong political satire, SNL found a way to bring most of the year’s political figures into one sketch.
The first two segments of the episode featured departing cast members Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan. Bayer starred as an annoying girlfriend in a Cartier jewelry Digital Short and Moynihan partnered with The Rock in a wrestling bit. Bayer and Moynihan also reprised characters in Weekend Update. Bayer returned as a perky meteorologist and Moynihan played his signature character, Dunk Uncle. Both were also present in the last two sketches of the night, including a graduation scene that marked the Class of 2017.
The best sketch of the night was the Xentrex Digital Short, which featured The Rock as a patient seeking an intense erectile dysfunction medication. Other great moments included a hip-hop video that included Tom Hanks returning as David S. Pumpkins and Johnson as mad scientist who went too far.
Musical guest Katy Perry appeared on SNL in advance of her new album Witness. Her first song, “Swish Swish,” featured an elaborate cavalcade of drag queens and a curious backpack-wearing dancer. Her second appearance, “Bon Apetit” placed Perry at the center of a bizarrely banquet table surrounded by dinner guests. In both instances her design team may have been a little too bold, but Perry at least gets points for trying something outside of the box.
The finale appropriately capped a strong SNL season. There was not a single lackluster sketch and it was satisfying to watch Bayer and Moynihan depart the show with great performances. By including references to some of their most successful moments on the season and allowing Hanks, Baldwin, and Johansson to join in on the fun, the SNL finale delivered spectacularly.