'Butch Ladies From Arizona' Infiltrate The Na'vi In Saturday Night Live's Avatar: The Way Of Water Spoof

"Saturday Night Live" is no stranger to poking fun at the "Avatar" movies. My own "Avatar" and "SNL" fandom happened to peak around the same time, so I vividly remember the "Laser Cats 5" SNL Digital Short from January 2010 with Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron as guest stars. If you don't believe me, my Laser Cats T-shirt has something to say about that.

In that same episode, we got another "Avatar" skit that dug further than anyone wanted into how interspecies intercourse might work and features Jason Sudeikis doing a perfect impression of Joel David Moore as the sidekick scientist, Norm Spellman. Shortly after filming for the sequels began in 2017, the "Papyrus" short — where guest host Ryan Gosling suffers psychologically from Cameron's choice of font for the "Avatar" marketing — became an example that producer Jon Landau uses as proof of the franchise's "cultural relevance" (while assuring us they've developed a proprietary font for the sequels).

Suffice to say, any of the "Saturday Night Live" "Avatar" skits are held to a high standard in my mind. And though we had to wait a little longer for the "Avatar"-themed "SNL" skits to pop up after the movie this time around, I'm happy to report the latest is another strong entry.

Like all of the "Avatar" content on "SNL," last night's skit continues to demonstrate a shockingly sophisticated reverence for the franchise, as is needed to make fun of it successfully. Host Aubrey Plaza and cast member Heidi Gardner present us with a provocative scenario where pretty much anyone can rent an "Avatar" for the weekend.

Spring breakers

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.