From a visual standpoint, last night’s skit surpasses anything SNL has done with “Avatar” before. It opens to reveal some incredible work the SNL team put into recreating Pandora through costumes, set design, and prop creatures that actually fly around. Mikey Day steps into the role of Jake Sully, warning that sky people have infiltrated their tribe in Avatar disguises, described as looking like “butch ladies from Arizona.” Other Na’vi, played by Sarah Sherman and Devon Walker, cannot believe their ears, with Plaza and Gardner — who go by Vicki and Christine — unconvincingly joining the chorus of doubt. Meanwhile, they’re not even attempting to hide their tank tops and camelbacks.
As the two become more confident they’ve outsmarted the Na’vi, they start taking hits from their vapes (I guess Na’vi lungs can not only tolerate some amount of our air, but can also breathe our nicotine products too). The cracks in their façade begin to show as Plaza’s prosthetic Na’vi ear literally begins to fall off, which may or may not be intentional but works either way. The dead giveaway though is when they begin a game of pick-up basketball, while ignoring Ego Nwodim grieving loudly as Neytiri. When Kenan Thompson makes a final plea for Jake Sully to recognize the imposters, he accidentally reveals he’s a human in an Avatar body too.
The sketch captures what other “Saturday Night Live” spoofs of “Avatar” have done, which is to take the premise just seriously enough to have fun with it. It’s also an amusing nod to the new “Recom” human-Na’vi hybrids in “Avatar: The Way of Water,” who have a similar love of tank tops and wraparound sunglasses.