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SNL finale: Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump returns for a swan song

“Hallelujah” was a goodbye to Trump and a goodbye to the season.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

President Donald Trump just had one of the most chaotic weeks of his young presidency, one that ended with a national conversation about whether Trump is fit to be president and whether or not he obstructed justice by firing FBI director James Comey because Comey was heading an investigation into his administration’s possible ties to Russia.

The president’s week was so tumultuous, in fact, that Saturday Night Live closed out its 42nd season by giving him a swan song.

Alec Baldwin brought back his well-honed Donald Trump impression, the SNL cast all reprised their Trump administration counterparts (including Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway and Cecily Strong as Melania Trump), and special guest Scarlett Johansson revived her Ivanka Trump in the show’s cold open: a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

It was a weird cold open because of its simplicity and contrast to the occasion. Saturday’s episode was the season finale, so many viewers were likely expecting the show to go out with a bang. But the cold open almost felt like a subtle diss against those who have followed SNL’s throughout the last few months.

Back in November, in the cold open of SNL’s first episode after the election, Kate McKinnon played Hillary Clinton and sang the same song. It was a concession sketch, an admission of Clinton’s defeat and a goodbye to McKinnon’s impersonation of the presidential candidate.

If this cold open follows suit, it marks Baldwin saying goodbye to his Trump impression after performing it much longer than anyone ever expected him to (the cold open was the only political sketch of the night). But more pointedly, it could also seem like the show taking a jab at Trump’s poor week. The “Hallelujah” could be the show’s insinuation that Trump is finished.

“I’m not giving up because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Baldwin’s Trump said as he finished the song. Then he gestured to the group behind him: “But I can't speak for these folks."

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