Saturday Night Live made some great hay out of this contentious election season, bringing in ringer Alec Baldwin to play an appropriately scowly and bombastic Donald Trump alongside Kate McKinnon’s enduringly driven (and hilarious) Hillary Clinton. So last night’s Benedict Cumberbatch-hosted episode, being as it was the final chance to get in some licks at the dueling presidential candidates before Tuesday’s election, seemed to start on familiar ground. The nominees squared off once again, this time on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. Baldwin’s Trump had to be told that his Twitter rantings are, in fact, open to the public. (“Really? And I’m still in this thing? America, you must really hate this lady.”) And McKinnon’s Hillary, praying for any other topic, was naturally asked about her emails, despite the fact that Trump was seen literally cozying up to the FBI, a hooded Klansman, and Beck Bennett’s ever-shirtless Vladimir Putin.
But, just as the sketch climbed toward the inevitable blow-out between the two candidates—Trump accuses Burnett (Cecily Strong) and Clinton of “lezzing,” Clinton says Trump has “single-handedly ruined things that we as Americans hold dear”—Baldwin breaks character. “I’m sorry, Kate—I just hate yelling all this stuff at you like this,” claims Baldwin, stepping across the illusory split-screen, “I just feel gross all the time.” Agreeing, McKinnon leads Baldwin out of the studio and (through pre-filmed TV magic) out of 30 Rock. Still dressed as the recognizable adversaries, the two go on a feel-good rampage of on-the-street hugging (McKinnon even steeling herself to embrace a mean-looking guy in a “Trump the bitch” shirt), while Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” provides additional uplift.
For a show that’s derived a lot of attention for skewering both candidates all season, McKinnon and Baldwin’s subsequent in-studio appeal simply to vote, and to “choose what kind of country we want to live in” might come off a bit wishy-washy. Especially since—Trump’s disastrous 2015 hosting stint notwithstanding—it’s pretty clear the show’s sympathies do not lie with The Donald. But, as the bit shows, even the people so adept at mining this ugly Trump-Clinton ground war for laughs (and ratings) just need this fucking thing to be over already.