The cold open for Saturday Night Live’s 42nd season finale was actually a callback to a bit from SNL’s first episode following November’s contentious election. In that sketch, Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton played the piano and sang a surprisingly intimate rendition of the then-recently deceased Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as a farewell to both Cohen and Clinton.
For the season finale, Alec Baldwin’s Trump sings the song along with virtually every other memorable SNL character from the Trump administration, including: McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway, Beck Bennett’s Mike Pence, Aidy Bryant’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Steve Bannon (hilariously portrayed as the Grim Reaper) and, finally, an unexpected return from Scarlett Johansson reprising Ivanka Trump. It’s a funny and surprisingly poignant callback to a time when America was nervously anticipating an uncertain future and needed a sort of catharsis from such an emotional and trying week.
Last Saturday’s episode concluded SNL’s strongest season in a long time. As Americans increasingly look to comedians and late-night shows to help sift through all of the madness that has been pouring out of Washington for the last 100 days or so, SNL’s return to form was a breath of fresh air. SNL’s extra motivation and dedication has been obvious this season, and it resulted in some true comedic gold.
By connecting this sketch to Hillary Clinton’s own swan song, SNL seems to be implying that Alec Baldwin’s Trump character may not return as his real-life counterpart continues to battle increasing controversy with Russian scandals and ever-growing impeachment talks. We don’t know what political climate the 43rd season of SNL will return to, but more than ever, we’re sure they’ll be ready for it.
Watch Baldwin’s rendition above and then check out McKinnon’s version below, plus a classic Cohen tune from the Paste Cloud further down.