“Saturday Night Live ”recap“: ”Jake Gyllenhaal hits hilarious notes in season 49 finale

The "Road House" star decided to remind everyone he can sing.

Here we are, Conehead nation! It’s graduation season, not just for millions of college seniors but for season 49 and our comedy heroes at Studio 8H. Wrapping up an entire season has me in full on commencement mode, reflecting on what went right (or didn’t!) over the past 20 episodes. We are in the midst of a kind of show detente, in my view, a precarious peace in uncertain times – nowhere near the nadirs we know Saturday Night Live is capable of, but not exactly a golden era, either.

To conclude season 49, Jake Gyllenhaal gets the ball. Following a long hiatus between his first and second times hosting - most recently back in 2022 - tonight is his third time out. Season finales can sometimes be underwhelming affairs, but let’s see.

<p>Saturday Night Live/YouTube</p> Jake Gyllenhaal on 'Saturday Night Live'

Saturday Night Live/YouTube

Jake Gyllenhaal on 'Saturday Night Live'

Related: Every Saturday Night Live season 49 host: Jake Gyllenhaal fronts finale with Sabrina Carpenter

I recently spoke with former SNL cast member Gail Matthius who watches the show “absolutely religiously” and says “they're doing great work. Kristen Wiig as the guest host and Maya the other night? Bold and crazy - they were in their playground.” However, recalling Ryan Gosling’s episode and recent Beavis + Butthead sketch, she correctly points out the cast is increasingly breaking a lot – which would have been unheard of in her era.

Season 49 concludes in 3...2...1.

Cold open

James Austin Johnson is Donald Trump in a “very weird and depressing” hallway, outside his Manhattan courthouse. This begins as your standard stream of consciousness monologue from JAJ, which have become the hallmark of this era. He namedrops “Elaine from Seinfeld” AKA former SNL cast member Julia Louis Dreyfus.

Trump gets into his veep candidates. Devon Walker returns  as Senator Tim Scott. Heidi Gardner brings out a fake dog but a real gun as South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. The “late, great” Hannibal Lector (Michael Longfellow) is giving Pence vibes.

Related: Maya Rudolph's Beyoncé still can't handle the heat in SNL's Hot Ones parody sequel: 'Why can't I slay this?'

Solid stuff - short and sweet. Nothing to write home about. We have seen worse political cold opens, haven’t we friends?


49 is a great number, Gyllenhaal says. He riffs about numbers and working with Conor McGregor in the streaming remake of Roadhouse. He is right - this is the last episode before the big 5-0, the key anniversary season.

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I love him shouting out the Ed Kock episode, way back in season 9. (Let’s be accurate: Edwin Newman, Father Guido Sarducci, Betty Thomas and Billy Crystal co-hosted!)

He sings a Boyz 2 Men parody about all the other people who were asked to host but said no. Over 900 shows! I like Kenan Thompson noting most of this season were “fine.”

Dad has a cookie

Related: The 15 best Jake Gyllenhaal performances

Andrew Dismukes wants to propose to girlfriend Chloe Troast at her parents’ house. However the father (Gyllenhaal) has a bigger obsession: his wife’s peanut butter cookie. She forbid him, but he couldn’t help himself.

Matthius calls Troast a “wonderful new singer… she’s terrific.”

There is some Tim Robinson influence here, right folks?

Scooby Doo and the Mystery of the Shadow Phantom

Mikey Day is Shaggy, with Gyllenhaal (as Freddie), musical guest Sabrina Carpenter (as Daphne) and Sarah Sherman (as Velma) tagging along with CGI Scooby. Old man Franklin (Johnson) is found out as the phantom. So far, a standard Scooby mystery - the villain has been revealed. However, more is in store for these kooky kids. 

Related: Jake Gyllenhaal's new children's book has a hilarious Prince of Persia Easter egg

Things take a dark turn when Gyllenhaal turns violent. High concept Sherman short film. Meh!

Beautiful Girls

We witness a chorus line of attractive, well put together young women. Here’s the hook: now the “boys” get a turn. Something for the ladies in the audience. We go Busby Berkley with the camera work, after hearing backstories for most of the male cast members. Gyllenhaal sings for the second time in a half hour.

This is like a cousin to the "Lawrence Welk" set-ups from the Kristen Wiig era, no?

Related: Every Saturday Night Live season 49 host: Jake Gyllenhaal fronts finale with Sabrina Carpenter

It is wild that Chloe Fineman was just at the Cannes Film Festival promoting Megalopolis. Now she is appearing here! (In a small role.) Pretty pedestrian, despite the choreography.


Mikey Day and Chloe Fineman are having a heart-to-heart about their relationship while hiking when Gyllenhaal interrupts, biking. He is very obnoxious! He audibly enters text, dictating emojis. “Send with invisible ink!” he orders to his iPhone. Another slight sketch.

We get our second Apple reference in several minutes. Very curious when that happens. “Clip out, then clip back in.”

Fast-fashion ad

Related: Jake Gyllenhaal isn't done punching his way out of trouble, will return for Road House sequel

These clothes are pretty cheap – don’t worry about it! No prisoners involved, don’t worry about the labor issues behind these deals. The glossy, pretty models grapple in real time with the casually soulless admissions about the company and its tactics. This is pretty incisive, watch it!

Here’s the point: even if you were aware of these ethical issues, would you keep buying it?

Sabrina Carpenter — first performance

“Espresso” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Carpenter's first top ten single on the chart. I get it, it has a catchy hook. One key fact: it was co-written by Windham, Maine’s Amy Allen.

Weekend Update

Our anchors tackle the recently announced Biden-Trump debates, as well as the Trump trial and recent shenanigans in the House of Representatives.

Two separate broods of cicadas will come this summer. To comment, two cicadas.

This feels symbolic - the ultimate legacy cast member (Kenan Thompson) is partnered with the new face of the show (Marcello Hernandez). Colin Jost raps Kreayshawn. Lots of tentacle-related fun. Marcello had a fun season — Emmy nomination, maybe?

Related: Watch an absolutely ripped Jake Gyllenhaal slap an MMA fighter while filming a scene for Road House

Here’s the fun takeaway: the return of Joke Swap! Last time, Che hired an actress to play a civil rights activist. This time, it’s Rabbi Jill. Kendrick Lamar jokes! Scarjo-Her references! Puppets! This kind of flops no?

Southwest Airlines

Related: SNL squashes 'silly' Kendrick Lamar vs Drake rap beef with Dua Lipa and a little help from 'AI'

Zachary from Southwest (Day) and his colleagues (Nwodim, Kearney, Longfellow, Thompson, Johnson, Walker) refuses to give Reginald (Gyllenhaal) a refund for his flight. Back in 2021, we had a similar sketch with Kieran Culkin, who had issues with his cable. Dismukes works at Hudson News - he is selling warm DaSani. Bowen Yang is both South and West - all directions. They can’t even get his name right. Boring, don't bother.

Sabrina Carpenter — second performance

“Feather” is another bop off Emails I Can't Send Fwd – co-written by Windham, Maine’s Amy Allen. This turns into a medley.

“I’m on SNL and you’re not!” she coos.

Jake’s sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, is remaking Bride of Frankenstein. Hence his shirt when he introduces this performance.

New York Police Department

Sergeant Jeff McDougal is giving a PAS on random acts of violence. His message? Stop punching character actors in the face! Steve Buscemi was just targeted, as was former host Rick Moranis. Stephen Root is being given a security detail. Seinfeld girlfriends (like Gilmore Girls’ Lauren Graham) are also on notice.

This is very funny! Watch it. We get a Jon Hamm cameo and a Stephen Tobolowsky reference. Character actors are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry! Heidi Gardner and Andrew Dismukes spar over Brad Pitt and Paul Giamatti. Love it.

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Gyllenhaal is a rough neck, who hits on Lexi, Snake Eyes’ girl. We meet Snake Eyes (Johnson).  They shoot looks at each other. Pretty funny 10-to-1.

Final thoughts

Pretty middle of the road episode! What did you think? Vote here!

Thank you so much to the former SNL cast members who provided commentary this season: Jeff Richards, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Gary Kroeger, Patrick Weathers, Victoria Jackson, Denny Dillon, Matthew Laurance, Tom Schiller, Gail Matthius, Ana Gasteyer and Taran Killam.

Related: Maya Rudolph embraces her Mother status with a musical SNL monologue: 'Bow down, children, I’m your mama'

Huge thanks to former SNLer and voice actor Gail Matthius for her thoughts tonight! Look out for more from her soon, including her folk rock band The Shambles (LA). (Her husband is John Wirth, the award-winning showrunner on the AMC series Dark Winds.)

A nice title card for the recently departed Dabney Coleman, who hosted back in season 13.

Here is what YOU, the people, thought about this season. I always think the vote totals are interesting, as well as the total numbers of votes as well:

Pete Davidson (1,259 votes)

Bad Bunny (1,569 votes)

Nate Bargatze (2,652 votes)

Timothee Chalamet (1,115 votes)

Jason Momoa (1,035 votes)

Emma Stone (1,011 votes)

Adam Driver (1,211 votes)

Kate McKinnon (1,221 votes)

Jacob Elordi (1,293 votes)

Dakota Johnson (1,496 votes)

Ayo Edebiri (1,431 votes)

Shane Gillis (3,431 votes)

Sydney Sweeney (1,416 votes)

Josh Brolin (1,120 votes)

Ramy Youssef (970 votes)

Kristen Wiig (1,299 votes)

Ryan Gosling (1,778 votes)

Dua Lipa (1,044 votes)

Maya Rudolph (983 votes)

Thank you for reading this season! See you soon!

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