"On SNL, Swift turned this improbably riveting song into improbably riveting TV," says Spencer Kornhaber. "She likely didn’t even need to project the track’s music video—a literal dramatization of the lyrics, played by very good-looking people—behind her to make it work. Maybe she didn’t need the autumn leaves falling from the rafters, but they were a nice touch. And though it helped that she graciously performed her celebrity-guest duties elsewhere during the episode (appearing in a musical sketch about 'three sad virgins'), that wasn’t really what made her turn on SNL memorable. The real appeal was Swift standing at a mic. As she moved through different phases of action—still at the start, light headbanging in the middle, dreamy swaying at the end—she created a sense of progression. Meanwhile, she used her eyes as an instrument by flicking her gaze into the camera to deliver the most damning lines, as if directly to her ex. Though her band was far away from her for most of the performance, two backup singers pulled up beside her for the chilling final refrain, cementing the feeling that an exorcism had been completed and Swift was ready to reenter the world."
TOPICS: Taylor Swift, NBC, Saturday Night Live, Jonathan Majors, Michael Che, Sarah Sherman