I'm not thrilled with the ending, but I understand why they did it. The brothers (and their associates) were always skirting on the edge of tragedy and, in a way, for EVERYONE to get a happy ending, that tragedy wouldn't have been met. This way, everyone got the happy ending or what they deserved in the case of T-Bag, Self and the General ... except for Michael, all the way. I am saddened by Michael's death, but it was bittersweet. And he, and Sara, at least had happiness in the end before, well, his end. Yes, it would have been nice if they'd had more, but they'd married, had a child together and everyone that Michael loved had a happy ending thanks to him.
Again, it was bittersweet and an all-happy ending would have been nice, but I'm not sure if it would have had a memorable punch. I'm still choked up about this one, and, well, in fiction, sometimes that bit of tragedy makes the rest of the happiness all that much more. I can live with that.
Besides, I got my most squeeful moment. Through the whole two hours, I kept hoping that Lang would show up, hoping, hoping, hoping. With the feds, I wanted Lang to walk in. Nope. During, after the exoneration, I kept hoping Lang would walk in. Nope. And then when Alex dropped that B-day card off for Pam, I was thinking: 'maybe, he'll run into Lang and they will have a moment.' And then the camera cut to Lang, in a dress and Alex walked to her, and put his arm around her and it was clear they were together and I squealed and grinned so big and clapped and rewatched their whole scene about five times. YAY!!! Alex and Lang!!! Man, I frickin' loved that.
All in all, I'll say that I pretty much loved this show from beginning to end (minus my defection when they beheaded Sara -- with her reheading, I simply caught up on all of season three and continued watching). Bittersweet, yeah, that's the perfect word to describe it. If I was more attached to the character or to Michael/Sara (although, I do love them), I might be angry about it, but from a storytelling point of view, it worked for me.
Good job, show. Good job.
ETA: I'm reading the TWoP forums on this and I have to quote SinkWriter72 about the Michael thing because that sums up my thoughts on it exactly and why it worked:
I'm sad about Michael. Hell, as soon as his nose started bleeding, I knew he was a dead man, and I definitely cried through the final scene. But at the same time, it feels right somehow. Maybe it's a cliché, that sacrificial lamb/Jesus thing, whatever, but it still feels right in its tragedy. This show started with his sacrifice for his family, for the person he loved most, and in the end, he helped get all the people he cared about some peace and happiness. If he had survived, he might have been happy, I'm sure, but I also think he would have tormented himself for the rest of his life about the people who were lost due to his plans and his schemes, the messes made, all the chaos and the blood lost, and what he could have done differently. Instead, he died knowing his family and friends were safe and protected and happy at long last, that Sara was happy, that he had a beautiful son, and everything was set as right as he could possibly get it. In a way, maybe his death gave him peace of his own.
ETA more -- I'm reading an interview with exec producer Matt Olmstead and he has this to say about my absolute favorite moment in the series (that happened in the finale).
TVGuide.com: That was an interesting romantic twist you did there with Mahone.Oh, yes!!!!!!!!! I get more Mahone/Lang in The Final Break. WOOHOO!!!!!!!
Olmstead: That was one of the surprises. Here he is, sending a birthday card to his ex-wife, yet now he's with his former [FBI] colleague [Felicia Lang]. We provide more "what happened" information on that in The Final Break.