People keep bringing up the flashforward episode from season 4, but as someone already said, that episode was just a dream. Who REALLY thought that Matt would end up a doctor? And Annie was just plain ridiculous in that episode. Personally, I'm GLAD the show didn't end that way.
That said, I LOVED the finale. There have been plenty of episodes that didn't rely on "shock value," which people are saying was lax in the series finale. I didn't NEED shock value. I needed a sense of closure, and that's exactly what I got, for the most part.
The relationship issues that have been building for years came to a head. Julia finally moved far away from Sean and Christian, taking the kids with her. She escaped their ridiculousness, their love affair with her.
Also, if Sean and Christian ended up professing their love for each other, as some suggested, I would have been SOO annoyed! They are not gay and that is incredibly clear throughout the show. Indeed, after 20 years of seeing each other every single day, they needed a break from each other, and as flashbacks have shown, Sean needed something meaningful (helping kids in third-world countries, rather than Hollywood plastic surgery). Sean used to be a good guy (in college), then he became a jerk right along with Christian. LOL. Now, Christian has forced him to redeem himself because Christian knows that Sean can be better, while he (Christian) cannot. It's actually very tragic and kind of profound.
That Matt ended up with Ava (Eva?) was a little surprising. I kind of hoped they would do that, actually, and then it seemed like they weren't going to, and THEN, low and behold, they did it! I really liked that. Matt highlighted the TWISTED nature of the situation himself: He knows Ava doesn't love him, but he wants to be with her anyway because he adores her and has a kid that Ava can love. THAT is pretty tragic and screwed up right there. Matt found someone he loves but won't ever get the same in return. I've always thought it was very interesting that Matt could deal so easily with the love of his life being a transsexual. I think that fact right there is a love letter to the fans, from a show about plastic surgery, appearances, etc.
Next, I thought the closing scene was perfect. Because while everyone was moving on with their lives (Julia was finding new love; Matt was finding old "love"; Sean was moving on to something he has always craved, a meaningful career, without Christian by his side; and Liz was becoming partner with Christian), we really saw that Christian just CAN'T change. He has no capacity for it, and that's his tragic flaw. He even says that they've always used the phrase "tell me what you don't like about yourself" to make people THINK they can change, "but they can't." That's Christian's view of the world, based on his own unchanging self-concept. I think it's okay that Christian didn't develop all that much throughout the show. That's just the kind of character he is, and we've ALWAYS known that. Sean has always had the potential for development, because we've always seen his resistance to, essentially, everything Christian did and stood for.
Finally, I didn't WANT to see a ton of surgery in this episode, and I'm glad I didn't. I thought that what they did with the surgery in this episode was great. The old man's story is one of underlying concepts behind the show, especially when he says, "Old or young, appearances still do matter." Then Ava's, "You're the high priest of conformity. You dance around the golden calf shouting, 'How you look is who you are.'" These are the issues that plague the show, the people in it (as well as the real world), and Sean and Christian. ESPECIALLY Sean, because he is not entrenched in the same business as Christian. Rather, he doesn't WANT to be. He wants to do something worthwhile, for people who NEED it. Not WANT it.
Great job, Ryan. I loved it. The series finale was low-key, in some respects, but I think taking some time to get these messages across was important.