Well, it’s finally over—the Big Love series finale aired last night on HBO, bringing an end to five years of Bill Paxton and his TV family bound together by fundamentalist Morman polygamy that spans from his private household all the way to the U.S. Senate.  How did the ending go over?  Well…

[Spoilers ahoy!]

  • Michelle Edwards of TV Fanatic was not impressed.  “Well, that was a letdown. ‘When Men and Mountains Meet’ had some shocking scenes, but overall I felt disappointed with how the show ended. This was the final episode, after all, and I felt that the writers held out in some areas, while rushing to complete other storylines.”
  • The New York Times seemed to be more on the fence, stating that the finale was “aiming to conclude with an unambiguous sense of resolution that “The Sopranos” vetoed, the writers Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer chose to kill off their protagonist in a lionizing fashion, almost as if they had grown guilty for spending so much time soliciting our contempt for him…”
  • TV Guide’s Matt Roush found the episode to be “meandering and disjointed,” but followed up with a quick dig at the famous finale of HBO’s The Sopranos:  “At least Big Love had an ending. Not every HBO series has been so lucky.”
  • The AV Club seems to be the most mixed, finding the series ending “in a way that’s occasionally satisfying, often erratic, and ultimately moving, even if it doesn’t suggest the show ever figured out a way to wrestle with many of the thorny ethical dilemmas it set up for itself in a real way.”  As for the surprise death of Paxton’s Bill Henrickson, the series’ main character?

“Don’t get me wrong: The sight of Bill bleeding out on a suburban street, his three wives hovered over him, Barb giving him the blessing he needs to move on into the eternal, to become a part of that great continuity, makes for an intensely moving moment—even if you don’t particularly care for Bill!—simply because of the strength of the actors involved and so on and so forth. But it’s also kind of a copout, a weird way to turn Bill into a combination of Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, and Harvey Milk…all without ever really dealing with the enigma that sat at the show’s center for so long.”

“It was a perfect finish to an astonishingly ambitious show that often careened through genre, narrative structure and believability like they were false walls on a stage. To have remained a “perfect” show, “Big Love” probably should have ended two seasons ago, before the action began moving away from the original nexus of family drama, spreading voracious tendrils of subplot all over the place like so much bougainvillea.”

What did you think of the finale?