It's not just that Aang didn't kill the firelord. That was understandable. It was in his character not to kill. However, all the avatar spirits inside him said to do it, even the airbender one said he had to put his mission before his own personal spirituality. Locking the lord's firebending abilities was an acceptable out... but that's exactly what it felt like: An out.
Azula's insanity was understandable, but it strongly felt like she went way too insane way too fast. The cause behind it was totally understandable, it should have even been predictable (love and frienship overcomes hate~!), but... but. I can understand where it came from, so I have no idea why it felt so unsatisfying. It almost seemed more plot-driven than character driven: They needed to get those secret police force members out of the way for the final battle, so she went crazy as an excuse to banish them all... and her advisors as well. Felt like another 'out', though this time taken by the writers instead of by a character.
From the very first time they got together, I hadn't believed the whole Zuko/Mai relationship. I had thought that Azula put Mai up to it as another way to control (or hurt) Zuko. Even at the end, in the final minutes, I expected her to turn around and say "Ha ha, fooled you!".
As for the good part, the whole Uncle Iroh/Zuko reunion was amazing. One of the best, perhaps the best, scenes I've ever seen on TV. Heartbreaking and wonderful and I cried and it hurt but it felt so good. Zuko's voice actor is amazing. (I'm tearing up again right now just thinking about it. The way Iroh pulled Zuko into a hug, the way Zuko's voice kept cracking, how they both were crying...)
Based on my viewing of the ending as a whole, I realized that for me, the whole series was about Zuko's redemption. Aang learning to use his powers and eventually saving the world was very much the weaker part of the story for me. That's not to say it was bad or all of it was terrible or anything like that, it's just that to me everything with Zuko was better, stronger, more emotional.
I want to rewatch the whole series, I'm sort of looking forward to doing so, but something about the ending has put me off it. The odd part is that I know that's not a fair reaction. Everything the characters did was understandable, it was just... unsatisfying. Would killing off the fire lord have been enough to change my feeling about that? I'm not sure, but I don't think so. The Zuko/Mai and Aang/Katara loving/kisses took away a lot for me. (Aang still feels like such a kid, not a sexual being in any way, the kiss just felt wrong.) I could almost see Zuko/Katara better than the two other couples.
I really wish I felt differently about the ending, I really did want to love it.
Anyway, hook me up! Good fics, good authors, good videos, good archives? How big is the Avatar fandom? And a question that's been bugging me since I started watching: Who in the world do people slash? I see no couple-potential at all. :/
Yay not worrying about spoilers anymore! *goes to hunt down fics and stuff*