The Saturday Night Live cast admitted it was a difficult season in a variety of ways in its final episode, starting with an earnest cold open that detailed what a very weird and tough year it was for everyone involved. But in another sketch that was, perhaps fittingly, cut for time the show did its best to take advantage of its host’s claim to fame while further showing the stress lines in the creative process.
The sketch, called “Backstage Pitch,” sees Taylor-Joy and Kate McKinnon pitching potential ideas for the show’s final episode of Season 46. McKinnon’s pitch is Queens Gambit, which is the two as heavily-accented women from the borough of Queens playing chess. The digital short jumps to the pair briefly playing that concept out before Taylor-Joy hesitatingly expresses some interest in actually doing it.
More pitches come, all of them puns related to the Queen’s Gambit. And eventually, Aidy Bryant pulls Taylor-Joy aside to explain what’s going on.
“I just wanted to explain,” Bryant said. “Sometimes when a host is really known for one popular thing everyone tries to write something about it.”
It’s a helpful note, and does seem to make Taylor-Joy feel better, but then Bryant pitches “Free Queene,” a sketch about Free Willy if it were also aout chess pieces. Bryant said they already bought a whale to make it happen, but again it’s not clear a sketch idea is actually there. And then McKinnon, out of nowhere, pokes fun at the show’s past host this season.
“You know what’s weird, I had this insane dream that Elon Musk hosted and my mother was there,” McKinnon said. Except, you know, that actually happened.
The sketch fraying a bit, Bryant explains that it’s been tough to come up with good ideas through all of this.
“The world ended and we kept doing out skits,” Bryant said.
“Ultimately, we are just so lucky to be alive,” McKinnon admitted before pitching “Queen’s Borat” to Taylor-Joy, almost reflexively.
Some other suggestions that didn’t make the cut: Mr. Bean’s Gambit, Dairy Queen’s Damn Bitch, My Octopus Chess Teacher. But while they all ended in pitch hell on SNL, the sketch ends with Taylor-Joy calling “Netflix” and declaring “I’ve got our season two.”
In her opening monologue, Taylor-Joy also joked that she could “take a handful of green pills” and read cue cards for the show if she got nervous, and also joked that the most important move in chess is the one she perfected on the show.
“No matter what your skill level is your very first chess move should be this,” she said, folding her hands and resting her chin on them while looking up, expectedly. In other words, Queen’s Gambit got plenty of play on the show, even if the sketch explicitly about it never actually made it to air.