'Saturday Night Live' Ended Season 49 Energetically, Despite Sabrina Carpenter's Decaf Performance

May 18, 2024

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews

BY Vish KhannaPublished May 19, 2024


A strong and memorable Saturday Night Live season ended with a funny and solid finale. Jake Gyllenhaal was a dedicated and great host, while musical guest Sabrina Carpenter did her best to be playfully provocative. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The Cold Open

James Austin Johnson appeared as Donald Trump giving one of his post-trial proceeding speeches outside of a NYC courthouse. He lamented the prospect of winning the presidency again, admitted he was afraid of testifying at his trial, and revealed his shortlist for VP candidates, including Devon Walker's Tim Scott, Heidi Gardner's Kristi Noem, and Michael Longfellow's Hannibal Lecter. Trump also announced some of his future plans, all of which was quite good.

The Monologue

Jake Gyllenhaal strode on stage and ridiculed hosting the Season 49 finale, because he was one episode off from hosting the season premiere of the show's more significant 50th year. He then sang a Boyz II Men parody that furthered the bit, before being joined by Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Devon Walker, and Punkie Johnson who led the whole studio in an "End of the Road" singalong, which was amusing.

Cookie Promise

A daughter brought her new boyfriend home to meet the parents, with Gyllenhaal playing the dad, Steve, who wanted desperately to eat a cookie that his wife forbade him from eating. Andrew Dismukes played Chris, the young man who wanted to propose to Chloe Troast's Hannah, but Steve was disturbingly fixated on the cookie scam. This was chaotic and good.

Scooby-Doo and the Mystery of the Shadow Phantom

In this remote, Gyllenhaal, Sabrina Carpenter, and cast members played the Scooby-Doo gang, who captured old man Franklin, a prospective criminal suspect, which soon devolved into a gory and bloody mess, which was rather spectacular. A remarkably dark and funny concept that worked well.

Billy Harper & His Beautiful Girls

Gyllenhaal played a singer in a dinner theatre show, who showed off his beautiful girls. But then he showed off his beautiful boys too, which consisted of most of the male cast members dressed like dorks with commentary about them by a couple in the audience played by Kenan Thompson and Heidi Gardner. This was terrifically funny.

Rider Left

On a hike, a couple played by Mikey Day and Chloe Fineman tried to have a serious relationship conversation when they were interrupted by Gyllenhaal as a very irritating, intense and slow cyclist who had trouble ascending a hill before eventually sliding down backwards. When he returned, he was accompanied by a character played by Bowen Yang, and this bit of physical comedy ended as strongly as it began.


In a great remote ad, a discount Chinese clothing company subtly admitted its manufacturing practices were shady af, which the actors in the promo discovered incrementally and firsthand. A rather hilarious idea that was executed well.

Sabrina Carpenter

Staged as a bar a scene, this performance of "Espresso" by slick pop artist Sabrina Carpenter featured theatrical choreography that was meant to depict a duel for Carpenter's attention. A lot of effort went into this slight and tawdry affair.

Wearing a tasseled corset and perched atop a stage platform, Carpenter sang the slight and airy "Feather" along with "Nonsense" while backed by a band and dancers. At one point, she sharply said, "I'm on SNL, and you're not," and ended the song with double-entendres about having a wet orgasm. Oof, this was obnoxious and bad.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost began Update ridiculing President Biden and Donald Trump for their public debate sparring, while Michael Che lamented the poor light this debate placed America in. Che also joked about the Black vote and destroyed Steve Bannon. Jost made fun of Paris's accessibility issues, and Che gleefully told us Trump's plane was made by Boeing.

Kenan Thompson and Marcello Hernández played two cicadas who discussed their plans during the forthcoming cicada invasion after being underground (and horned up) for up to 17 years. This was silly, but moved swiftly enough to be okay.

Jost told us that Tom Brady regretted his participation in a comedy roast and Che made a great joke about the new Prince Charles portrait. As is tradition for season finales, Jost and Che read jokes written by the other, sight unseen. As usual, the two humiliated each other with very harsh and personal jokes. Che had a rabbi sitting beside Jost while he made his antisemitic jokes, but those were just too deliberately provocative to really be shocking. The best bits involved Scarlett Johansson and Kendrick Lamar (look out, Che), but those were earlier. This ended so awkwardly and unfunny with a puppet gag, which was a strange conclusion to an otherwise good Update.

Southwest Airlines

Gyllenhaal played a passenger trying to adjust his flight with Southwest over the phone, but was repeatedly transferred to different representatives. The whole cast seemed to be in this one, but it wasn't worth it until Bowen Yang played a demigod named Southwest who finally sort of offered some customer satisfaction.

Police Press Conference

Gyllenhaal played a police sergeant announcing that the NYPD was concerned about the rash of random attacks on character actors like Steve Buscemi, Rick Moranis and Michael Stuhlbarg, which was a clever observation about the links between these assaults (former SNL cast member Chris Redd also once suffered from such stranger danger in NYC, but he wasn't mentioned). After some silliness, Jon Hamm appeared to make sure he was safe, and then Gyllenhaal gave a lovely speech celebrating character actors everywhere.

Snake Eyes' Girl Gyllenhaal played a roughneck in a tavern who made a pass at Lexi, as played by Sarah Sherman, which led to a tussle with James Austin Johnson's Snake Eyes. Well, things didn't go well for Snake Eyes in the end in this brief and absurd sketch.

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