Eh, it wasn't the best series finale but it wasn't the worst either. As a general episode it was a bit mediocre; LokSat was never a particularly interesting antagonist, and every dramatic twist was so obvious you could see it coming a mile away, with the exception of the very last one which didn't really make sense and was just tacked on to create a potential (and unnecessary) cliffhanger. There were a few good bits, but overall it just felt pretty average.
It also did that season finale thing that I hate where everything's wrapped up and all the characters are happy and it would be the perfect place to end things but instead they then add on something else from out of nowhere in order to set up a cliffhanger for the next season. But then because Castle got cancelled they had to tack on yet another ending that was completely jarring and didn't follow on at all. I mean I love confirmation that seven years down the line Castle and Beckett are still happily married with children of their own, but coming straight off the back of seeing the two of them shot and bleeding out on the floor really didn't work. It would have made far more sense to have cut out the bit with Caleb coming back and just gone straight from the happy post-case celebrations to the 'seven years later' time jump. They could have put the Caleb scene on the DVDs as the alternate ending that would have been shown had the series been renewed.
To be honest, I'm probably going to just forget season eight ever existed. Hollander's Woods would have been a perfect series finale and really not much of value will be lost by ending things there.
I spent a lot of this episode shouting at the TV cos so many things would have been avoided if these characters just fucking TALKED to each other. Oh my god. I mean ok, I expected that from Rumple cos I think he might actually be allergic to direct and honest communication, but what was Emma and Regina's excuse? It was particularly bad when they caught up with Henry and instead of EXPLAINING to him the potential problems with his plan they waffled and apologised and WERE ABSOLUTELY FUCKING USELESS. This is especially egregious cos at this point they believed that destroying magic would destroy their town, so maybe, just maybe, you should FUCKING TELL THE KID THAT.
But no, they didn't. And then later when Henry actually did use the chalice to suck up all the magic from the crystal they all just STOOD THERE AND DID NOTHING. But it's ok, cos apparently magic isn't as special as we thought all this time and actually can be achieved with a few people throwing coins in a fountain. Of course.
I also think that Regina splitting herself into two was a terrible idea. The Evil Queen wasn't a separate entity that possessed her or was magically created out of something else, it was HER. You can't just remove a part of yourself like that. You can change, move on, redeem yourself, become a better person, but you can't just magically cut out bits you don't like.
I assume the writers did this because they love Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen and wanted more scenes of that while still keeping Regina as a hero.
I spent the whole episode hoping that Ziva would turn up because she couldn't really be dead, but apparently Cote de Pablo had been telling the truth about not coming back. I'm rather disappointed about that, and the fact that they decided to kill her off offscreen in order to give Tony a surprise daughter. But I'm not too upset cos I'm still holding on to my belief it's not true. That Ziva survived and had either already made contact with Tony or would be doing so right after the episode finished.
I don't even think I'm being unrealistic with my theory. The house was supposedly destroyed, yet Tali was completely untouched? I know they said her room was down the corridor, but we saw that place engulfed in flames on the screen. Being the other end of a corridor wouldn't have saved her. And for that matter, why would her room be at the other end of the corridor anyway? Any parent with a small child is going to want to keep them close, and Ziva even moreso than the average mother.
I also thought her go-bag was far too perfect, as though it had been packed specifically for this purpose. The whole point of a go-bag is essentials for an emergency when you have to leave in a hurry. A kid's favourite stuffed toy would not normally be in such a bag, it would be with the kid. A framed photo would not normally be in such a bag, it would be on display. Also, why would the rescuers who apparently "pulled [Tali] from the rubble" have bothered to pick up her bag on the way out? They wouldn't. Their only concern would have been getting the small child out of the burning building, leaving everything else behind. This whole scenario only works if you assume that Ziva had already taken Tali out of the house before the bombing. Then she could easily have gone to Orli, asked her to officially declare that she died in the fire, and given her Tali to take to Tony in order to keep her safe.
I'm not entirely sure why she would have done these things, as she wasn't the actual target of the bomb, but I'm sure someone can come up with a good reason. That is the joy of fanfiction after all, and I look forward to reading lots of stories about what happens next, Tony and Ziva's reunion, and their adventures raising their daughter together.