Saturday Night Live kicked off last night's Season 46 finale by looking back on the past year, all building up to an appearance from Chris Rock. After members of the cast looked back fondly (or not so fondly) at some of the craziest things that happened, Rock arrived to point out how different the world is now from October 2020, when he hosted the season premiere. The sketch notably also began with veterans Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson holding back tears as they prepared to take audiences through the past 12 months.
"I hosted the first episode this season, and that feels like six years ago," Rock said during the May 22 opening segment. "Here's how messed up the world was when I hosted. I wanted Kanye West to be the musical guest, but he couldn't because he was running for president! Remember that?" The comedian also reminded the audience that the week he hosted, then-President Donald Trump got COVID himself. "That was this season!"
Rock then made some jokes at SNL's expense, noting that they still did 12 more shows. "Even Jim Carrey knew it was time to go home," he said, referencing how Carrey played President Joe Biden in the first few episodes of the season. "But the main thing was, we were in it together," Pete Davidson said, trying to turn the sketch in a hopeful direction. But then McKinnon and Strong asked if Davidson was doing this sketch from home because his green screen was malfunctioning.
In the end, the cast noted how lucky they were to be working at a time when so many others were not. "We remember when seeing the top of our friend's faces was better than being alone in our apartments with our adoptive pet children," Strong said. "We remember losing members of our SNL family, like our beloved music producer, Hal Willner," Bryant said. McKinnon also struggled for a moment as she delivered a line noting that this was the year the cast realized they were more than a cast, they are a family.
The episode came after last week's latest parody of the country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. McKinnon once again played Dr. Anthony Fauci, who introduced a series of sketches from National Institutes of Health employees who were supposed to help explain the CDC's confusing new guidelines on masks. Nothing went as planned though, as the cast took things in very NSFW directions that helped no one get closer to understanding whether or not vaccinated people need to wear their face masks all the time.
The Season 46 finale featured The Queen's Gambit actress Anya Taylor-Joy and rapper Lil Nas X as the guests. Both were SNL rookies, as this was their first appearance on the show. This was the first traditional finale since 2019, as the show aired a series of SNL At Home episodes to end the 2020 season. It was also a little different since SNL finales typically feature show veterans or stars with long SNL histories. Last year's finale featured former cast member Kristen Wiig, while the 2019 finale was hosted by frequent guest host Paul Rudd. Tina Fey hosted the 2018 finale. This episode could also be the last for some cast members, although NBC has not announced if anyone is leaving yet.