Now THIS is the kind of finale that Futurama deserved.
As a show that's had not one but four (potential) finales, you could say that Futurama has become a bit of an expert on the subject. Admittedly, their success in that field has been a little, shall we say, scattershot.
The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings was long standing the one that I recognized as THE definitive ending, both bittersweet and full of hope for the future. The ending to Into the Wild Green Yonder also had its moments, and it was great to see Leela and Fry finally get together, but it somehow just didn't live up to the first for me. As for Reincarnation, the rumored last episode when it was uncertain if the show would be picked up for another season, I'll admit.... I was underwhelmed.
But I have to say, the writers really hit the nail on the head this time. As a show that for years has been one of my favorites (and sometimes I feel has been under-appreciated), "Meanwhile" was a fitting tribute to a couple that's been building since the episode "Titanic" in season two.
Fry finally takes the big leap to propose to Leela, while swiping an invention of the Professor's that can replay the same ten seconds over and over again, allowing him to make the moment last as long as he wants. Without giving too much away to those that haven't watched it, crazy time antics happen and Fry and Leela are trapped in a single moment that is frozen for all of eternity while they age naturally.
The last episode wasn't afraid to pull out the black humor and cynicism Futurama is great at, but the blows were softened by sentiment and humanity, with each dark joke countered by a rather touching Fry/Leela moment. The finale managed to give the characters a bit of closure in addition to making several nods to parts of the show's history, while managing not to wrap it up too neatly, hinting that-for the characters at least-life in this universe would go on.
As an episode, there are a few minor qualms (the plot did seem a bit mechanical at times, with not much that you honestly couldn't see coming), but as a finale, Meanwhile did a spectacular job of giving a great send off to a great show, and has since become one of my favorite episodes that the series has produced.