Things I liked:
1. The fact that the magic reveal was early on in the episode and just between Merlin and Arthur.
2. The acting, it goes without saying, was phenomenal. My opinion of Merlin is that the talent of the actors has always far outstripped the talent of the writers - and that remains unchanged.
3. I liked the fact that Merlin and Arthur got at least one adventure together where Merlin got to openly use his magic.
4. I like the fact that we could see Arthur slowly coming to terms with Merlin as a sorcerer - I love that he went through the entire arc, from being frightened of Merlin to feeling just betrayed and then finally coming to see that Merlin was still the same person he always knew - and more than that, realizing that he had the most powerful sorcerer ever to walk the earth as his manservant, and that the sorcerer LIKED it that way.
5. I liked the fact that this episode really was about the love story of Arthur and Merlin, which, of course, the entire show has been about - so it was nice to have the final episode completely dedicated to it.
6. I like that we got an ending for all the knights - some were sad (Gwaine, I'd argue, had the most tragic ending) and some were bittersweet (Percival being the last of Arthur's original low-born knights left alive - Leon, who I've seen some people jokingly call immortal, remaining Gwen's right hand knight as he was Arthur's). I think that scene between Percival and Gwaine broke my heart completely.
7. The final moments between Merlin and Arthur were horrendously heartbreaking and very well done. I half expected Arthur to tell Merlin "I love you" as his final words, but "Thank you" WAS actually more fitting, since the whole thing with Merlin is that he has constantly suffered without any thanks from those he suffered for.
8. Gwen being a badass queen was awesome. And I LOVE the fact that she was basically the only one who really did put it together that Merlin was a sorcerer without having to be told. She needed to have it confirmed, but that's hardly the same thing. And when it was, she wasn't betrayed, she was happy. I think Gwen will restore magic to it's rightful place in the kingdom.
Things I didn't like:
1. Magic wasn't restored to the kingdom in Arthur's lifetime.
2. Morgana's death. Katie McGrath kept saying that she liked Morgana's ending, but I didn't. It was the death of a two-dimensional villain, not someone who was Arthur's sister and USED to have a good heart. I wanted either a sliver of redemption, or at the very least, an acknowledgement that she had gone about everything completely wrong and misguided.
3. The ending. I guess I just wanted a complete reincarnation/resurrection ending. If you're going to have a show that completely changes and plays with the Arthurian myths - like, just COMPLETELY rewrites the legends - WHY DO YOU STILL GIVE US A HORRIBLY TRAGIC ENDING?! Maybe it's just me, but the idea of Arthur's second coming isn't a a balm for pain of his death - nor is the thought of Merlin, immortal and unchanging, stalking the shores of lake Avalon waiting for his friend to return...never able to move on from the grief of having lost him in the first place. Why not give us an ending where Arthur miraculously survives and we see him restore magic? Why not give us an ending where it's the future but Merlin is young and he's walking up the road and he sees a group of boys laughing, and one of them turns and smiles at him and it's Arthur...and they have this sort of unspoken moment of joy at seeing one another again. I guess, I just wanted them to subvert the legends completely.
Anyway, yeah...I guess I'm conflicted. There were some really good bits, but the ending wasn't satisfying to me. I wanted it left open, I suppose, for canon-compliant future-fics to be written that could satisfy me in the days ahead - but alas.
I'm going to really miss this extremely gay show. I guess I just wanted it to go on in my brain forever.
Now, even though I didn't like the tragic ending. I have to say that the final scene between Merlin and Arthur really was magnificent. I love the fact that Arthur told Merlin just to hold him...I love the fact that he used the last of his strength to reach up and put his hand on Merlin's head. I love that in the end it really was a love story between Merlin and Arthur.
Now I'll go have a sulk.