Larry David reprised his now less than magnanimous Bernie Sanders to Kate McKinnon’s gloating Hillary Clinton last night for the cold open of Saturday Night Live‘s season finale. Like their real-life counterparts, the SNL imitations have lost more than a little of their original charm since the beginning of this endless election adventure, but a barroom rapprochement was practically a foregone conclusion, and the finale delivered. So what if McKinnon’s Hillary remains lacking in…in…in something essential, something uncanny or even funny, while David’s crowd-pleasing Bernie isn’t quite the guffaw-machine he was when he first stunned us. The portrayals can still land the odd precision bomb. Ordering drinks at the bar, David’s Sanders favored something “revolutionary,” while McKinnon’s Hillary simply wanted “whatever beer no one likes but gets the job done.” Soon enough the duo were sharing a last tipsy waltz through the 30 Rock soundstage, a bit that was brave enough or foolish enough to recall that long-ago dance between Steve Martin and Gilda Radner. Take it as a tribute and smile.
Odder but with a stronger (well, certainly bloodier) payoff was a pre-taped Dead Poets Society/Goodbye, Mr. Chips genre parody, with finale host Fred Armisen taking the beloved teacher role in “Farewell, Mr. Bunting.” As the inspirational Mr. B returns to class to collect his things, his devoted, defiant, students — seemingly the entire male half of SNL’s 2016 cast including Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Jay Pharoah, Jon Rudnitsky and Pete Davidson — stage a protest by standing atop their desks, in the lanky Davidson’s case perhaps a bit too close to that ceiling fan. What happens next should delight even the blood-thirstiest Monty Python fan.