Before Saturday Night Live was set to premiere its final episode of 2021, hosted by Paul Rudd with musical guest Charli XCX, reports started coming out that multiple cast and crew on the show had tested positive for COVID-19. The show announced at the last minute that there would be no live audience, and Charli XCX tweeted that she was “devastated and heartbroken” that she had to pull out. Just a few hours before broadcast, it was still unclear whether there would even be a show.

So what we ended up getting was very weird–even weirder than the SNL At Home episodes from spring 2020, because at least then, the cast and crew had some time to prepare pieces from their homes. This time, there were only three pre-taped sketches completed from this week, no Cold Open (it was the first time no one was said "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" in over 30 years), and an informal Weekend Update with Tina Fey filling in for Colin Jost. Instead, a bunch of seemingly random holiday-themed sketches from SNL past and present were introduced by Rudd, Kenan Thompson, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks and Michael Che, who also, in parts, acted as the audience.

Rudd summed up the strangeness of the night during the closing credits: "I know it wasn't the Christmas show you expected, but that's the beauty of this place," Rudd said. "Like life, it's unpredictable. As my good friend Tom Hanks once said in a movie, life's like a big weird chocolate bar: sometimes it's delicious, other times it's got that orange cream filling in it, and it's like, okay, not what I would have chosen, but that's better than nothing." The five stars then started joyously elbow bumping and fist-pounded in one of the sweetest moments of the night.

Instead of the usual Cold Open, the show began with the Monologue, in which Rudd was "officially" welcomed into the Five-Timers Club. It seems Hanks was flown out to cameo during this segment, and since he was here and is a longtime friend of SNL who often pops up during difficult moments, he decided to help out. But the highlight here was a perfect taped message from "Famous Steve Martin" and finger-dipping Martin Short.

Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant joined Rudd for HomeGoods, the very good first pre-taped segment, which was a holiday commercial for the store that turned into a plea for grandchildren.

I'm not the biggest fan of Pete Davidson on the show—he's not good at impressions, he tends to wink at the camera a bit too much, and I generally feel he shines the more he is himself, like during his Weekend Update segments—but An Evening With Pete Davidson was one of my favorite things he's ever done on SNL. It's a holiday-themed Raging Bull parody in which Davidson works as a lounge act in 2054 with a robotic Colin Jost.

The third and last brand new pre-taped segment was the extremely weird, somewhat grating, and ultimately pretty damn funny The Christmas Socks, in which Rudd sings a song about the titular socks with a boy (played by Kyle Mooney) that goes on way too long. But hey, at least TJ Rocks (played by Charli XCX) is home again.

If you recall the At Home episodes from last year, Weekend Update without an audience to bounce off of is very strange, but Rudd, Hanks and Thompson did their best to provide a laugh track to Fey and Che's jokes (also, Fey and Che just sounds nice together). It was an incredibly lofi setup: no desk, no chairs, no suits, just the two comedians reading jokes while sitting on the edge of the stage. But it was pretty great seeing Fey back in her element.

So that was it in terms of new material (it does frustrate me that they didn't air the two very good cut-for-time sketches from last week, Angelo's Christmas and Please Don't Destroy-Future Selves). The rest of the episode was a grab bag of SNL holiday sketches that included a few classics (Dick In A Box, Christmastime For The Jews), and some totally random ones that were clearly personal favorites of the people there (The Global Warming Christmas Special, Santa & The Elves, Now That's What I Call Christmas).

Not all those sketches are online, but the two that really brought me a lot of joy was the aforementioned Christmastime For The Jews, an animated Rankin/Bass-style sketch with a brilliant Phil Spector-esque parody (sung by Darlene Love!). And the other was Steve Martin's Holiday Wish, which is just a perfect two-and-a-half minute monologue.

That's it for 2021! No hosts or musical guests have been announced for January yet, and it's unclear whether the show will take a few extra weeks to come back with this latest surge going on. But it will be back eventually, and hopefully we all will be too.