We’ll start this weekend’s recap of “Saturday Night Live” at the end, and a season finale that concluded with a particularly tearful set of goodnight waves from the cast. While several of them were merely saying goodbye for the summer, a few longtime performers made it clear during the broadcast that this was their last episode.

On Friday, it was reported that Kate McKinnon, who joined the “S.N.L.” cast in the spring of 2012; Aidy Bryant (fall 2012); Kyle Mooney (2013) and Pete Davidson (2014) would all be leaving the show at the end of this season. Davidson confirmed as much on Saturday afternoon in a post on the Instagram account of his friend and fellow comedian Dave Sirus, where he wrote:

I got to share so much with this audience and literally grow up in front of your eyes. We were together through the good and the bad, the happiest and the darkest of times. I owe Lorne Michaels and everyone at SNL my life. Im so grateful and I wouldn’t be here without them.

Indeed, this whole episode, hosted by Natasha Lyonne and featuring the musical guest Japanese Breakfast, had a valedictory feel to it. Heck, there was even a sketch about finding out what happened to a class of high schoolers after their senior prom. As Andrew Dismukes said in a voice-over, “Time took us all in so many different directions. For a brief moment, we were all there together, dancing the night away, with our whole lives ahead of us.” (Then we found out his character was murdered by a classmate.)

Historically, “S.N.L.” has been a bit stingy about allowing its departing cast members to take victory laps on their last shows. For every Kristen Wiig, who got a farewell serenade from Mick Jagger, there are countless other performers who have exited quietly in the off-season and even a few who seemed to be leaving but came back the following fall.

Tonight, however, the powers that be (by which we mean Lorne Michaels) were more generous in permitting the graduating members of the class to take their curtain calls. Here’s how some of them said goodbye:

In a break with recent tradition that perhaps reflects how much McKinnon has meant to the show over the years, “S.N.L.” did not start this weekend with a topical cold-open sketch. Instead, it began with an entry in its long-running “Close Encounter” series, in which McKinnon has played Ms. Rafferty, an alleged alien abductee with a knack for double entendres who seems a little too delighted to have been kidnapped to outer space.

At the end of this week’s sketch, McKinnon volunteered to leave with the extraterrestrials. “I always felt like an alien on this planet anyway,” she said. As she stepped onto their spacecraft, she addressed the audience and said, “Well, Earth, I love you. Thanks for letting me stay a while.”

For an appearance at the Weekend Update desk, Bryant and Bowen Yang returned in their recurring roles as the Trend Forecasters — a pair of voguishly attired experts who vehemently declare various fads and crazes to be in or out.

After passing judgment on summer fruits, verbal greetings and time itself, the duo announced a category called future trends. Bryant said, “In: 10 nice years,” her voice breaking ever so slightly. Yang responded, “In: a friend I couldn’t have done this without.” To the out list, they said they had banished pretty little bouquets, expensive tiaras and Michael Che. The camera then cut to Che, who was of course holding a bouquet and wearing a tiara.

“But I’m just hearing something new is in,” Bryant said. “In: my best guys kissing me.” Bowen replied, “Well, then, we must,” and he and Che each planted a kiss on Bryant’s cheeks.

Returning to the Weekend Update desk for the last of his comedy bits there, Davidson said hello to Che, Colin Jost and “millions of people only watching to see if I bring up Kanye.”

Looking back on his “S.N.L.” debut, Davidson said, “I never imagined this would be my life.” Though no one seemed to know what race he was then, he said, “now everyone known I’m white, because I became hugely successful while barely showing up to work.”

When Jost asked him if he was leaving, Davidson replied, “Yeah, man. Lorne accidentally gifted me a sock, so I’m free.”

Nonetheless Davidson said he hoped that his time on the show would “inspire hope that literally anyone could be on ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

He continued, “Seriously, you see a guy bumming cigarettes outside a 7-Eleven at 2 a.m.? That’s not some meth head. That’s the next Pete Davidson.”

In their own segments at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Jost and Che riffed on the upcoming summer and Tucker Carlson.

Jost began:

Well, at last year’s finale it seemed like Covid was fading. And I said we were about to have the horniest summer ever. And now summer’s hottest STD is monkeypox. That’s how bad and weird things have gotten. The stock market is crashing, there’s a war in Europe, everyone on “This is Us” is about to croak. The future is looking pretty bleak. You’d have to be crazy to bring a child into the world right now. I mean, I just did. But don’t worry, I’ve been hoarding baby formula.

Che continued:

A recent report shows that Fox News host Tucker Carlson, seen here bragging about how big it is, has repeatedly pushed the theory that Democrats want to replace white people with minorities. But that doesn’t even make sense because white people exist. It’s not like they suddenly turn into minorities. Unless it’s Halloween. Tucker Carlson’s got a lot of nerve pushing these wild conspiracy theories. Because if he thinks the government has a secret plot to help minorities, well he must be smoking that crack the C.I.A. secretly put in Black neighborhoods.

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