It's been an up-and-down season—okay, it's been a weaker-than-normal season—but Saturday Night Live went out on a high note with last night's season finale. Ben Affleck was the affable host, but the evening belonged to Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, the two heavyweight performers who announced this week they were leaving the show. SNL was able to give both performers spotlight sketches to remind us how good they could be. We still think SNL needs a new influx of performers, but tonight's episode made us realize how much we'll miss those two.
There were two centerpiece sketches that were able to dip a toe in the sentimental without going over the edge, including Stefon riding into the sunset during his final appearance on Weekend Update (well...until Stefon inevitably returns to say goodbye to Seth Meyers before he leaves at the end of the year). Meyers had to prove his love by punching Anderson Cooper and fending off dozens of past characters from Stefon sketches. It wasn't the funniest Stefon appearance, but the feel-good quotient was high.
Then Armisen got to perform as Ian Rubbish (his character from the awesome punk rock Margaret Thatcher bit a few weeks ago) in the final sketch of the night. Although it was a pretty straightforward performance, it was the perfect way to say goodbye to the slightly aloof Armisen—he just brought out all his cool music friends (Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon, Steve Jones, Aimee Mann, and J Mascis on the solo!!) to jam it out on national television. It could have been self-indulgent, but again it hit that not-too-sappy sweet spot (the actual song was also pretty good).
Also: Amy Poehler returned to Weekend Update! Armisen got to pull out his Mahmoud Ahmadinejad impression for his version of Argo, "Bengo F#ck Yourself." There was a hilarious Xanax for Gay Weddings commercial. Jennifer Garner got to make fun of her husband's Oscar speech. And we got "Hermes Handbags", another iteration of the most hilarious new recurring sketch of this season.
Of course there were some pretty meh sketches as well (the "Depression Scene" and "Engagement Picnic," which isn't online, didn't work too well), but we walked away from this episode much more impressed than not. Click through for all those sketches, plus two performances of new songs from Kanye West. Until next season...