Photo: Lloyd Bishop / NBC

Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Sendoff Captures What The Show Does Best

God bless and keep you, Higbones.

It would be pretty hard to get that emotional about Jimmy Fallon's final episode at the helm of Late Night, which aired last night. Other than the time slot (which, in this day and age, barely even matters anymore), nothing's really going to change: Fallon, like the rest of NBC's schedule, will take a few weeks off, and then come back to host a late-night talk show out of a studio in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, followed by another late-night talk show hosted by a different white guy. It's just that now the white guy whose show follows Fallon's will be Seth Meyers, not Carson Daly. Fallon's Tonight Show will still feature him and Steve Higgins and The Roots and the same whole writing staff and probably at least some of the same comedy bits. So Jimmy Fallon's final Late Night barely felt like anything was ending; it's more like the network is pressing pause, unhooking the DVR, and plugging it into a bigger, fancier TV.

And though Fallon himself got a bit choked up at times — which is certainly his prerogative; even if the job he's going to isn't much different from the one he's had for the past five years, the one he's leaving arguably let him fulfill the destiny he was really meant for his whole life, because starring in the likes of Taxi wasn't it — the episode was mostly unsentimental, and offered the usual amiable silliness of any Friday-night episode. There was a topical monologue with a minimum of self-reference. There were thank-you notes. There was a guest (Andy Samberg) who has a personal relationship with Fallon, based on their both being SNL alumni, but who was mostly just there to plug his project and not sappily reminisce.

And then Fallon and announcer/sidekick Steve Higgins had an interlude to talk about the funniest moments from the show's five years. All of them were, legitimately, hilarious. None of them were the (also hilarious) high-concept comedy or musical bits that the show is known for. All of them were reminders that sometimes all a moment needs to be funny is the element of surprise.

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Not everyone will get a bit like Tebowie, but even a very tiny child will be amused by a grown man's pants falling down.

Speaking of tiny children: the episode closes with Fallon joining a couple dozen Muppets for a cover of "The Weight." I personally don't recognize any Muppet-related work post-Jim Henson, and I confess that I may have spent this song thinking about the cynical plotting behind it — to wit, it's the rare late-night TV moment that a parent can show to his or her kids and thus will rack up hella YouTube and Hulu views, but even a big jerk like me can admit that it's kind of the perfect way for Jimmy Fallon to end his time on Late Night. He's basically a Muppet himself. But then there's a moment that comes after the song, and for all my posturing about how little the episode (or the occasion) invite sentimentality, totally got me.

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Snif. Congratulations, Jimmy, you big goofus. See you in a few weeks.

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