The final image in the final sketch of the final episode of Saturday Night Live's 45th season was one of Kate McKinnon, superimposed atop the entrance to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, slowly waving. Was she waving goodbye?
The scene capped a sketch that saw the cast of the show dreaming about being back in a bustling New York City, the kind no one's seen since early March. While most of the cast were seen superimposed into more humorous situations, such as Kenan Thompson noticing Dustin Hoffman walking down the street next to him in full Tootsie regalia, or Kyle Mooney hanging out with a Times Square Elmo, McKinnon's vignette appeared to strike a more serious tone — one that quickly got some Twitter users wondering whether she was subtly signaling her departure from the show.
This isn't the first time McKinnon, who's been with SNL for eight years, has been rumored to be leaving the show. Before signing on again for this past year, it was reported that she was mulling leaving the show at the end of the 2018-2019 season/.
While cast members, especially those in the current cast, have been known to juggle multiple projects while remaining on the show — Aidy Bryant in Shrill, Kenan Thompson in... well, many things — McKinnon has been particularly busy of late. She had a supporting role in the movie Bombshell earlier this year, and recently signed on to star in two upcoming TV projects: one that will see her portraying disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, and another in which she's set to play Tiger King's Carole Baskin.
Did anyone else burst into inconsolable tears when #KateMcKinnon waved goodbye from the marquee of @RadioCity in @nbcsnl's last show of the season? Or am I having a breakdown? pic.twitter.com/zzPelfdQHa— D.P. Snyder (@DorothyPS) May 10, 2020
Saturday Night Live itself is known to not pre-announce cast departures until just before the start of the next season, so unless McKinnon herself chooses to share, we may not know her official status on the show for several months now. That said, this wouldn't be the first time a departing cast member gave an on-air hint of their intentions, with both Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader getting memorable send-offs on the show, even if they weren't officially labeled as such. Usually our best indicator is the live goodnights, where the cast swarms the often tearful cast member in question. (Alas, no goodnights last night, as it was a remotely-produced "at home" epsiode.)
Whether or not she returns as a cast member, it's a pretty safe bet that this won't be the last time we see Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live. With so many iconic characters under her belt, one assumes she'll continue to be the show's go-to whenever a sketch calls for a Hillary, an RBG, a Jeff Sessions, or any of the many other personalities she's brought to life during her years on the show.
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Jed Rosenzweig is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer. Follow him on Twitter @jedrosenzweig.