Warning: full spoilers for the Green Lantern: The Animated Series finale follow.
THE FATE OF ALL EXISTENCE RESTS ON HAL JORDAN'S SHOULDERS.
Well, as Emperor Joseph II was so fond of saying, there it is. Green Lantern: The Animated Series is over. After a string of episodes marked by heartache, destruction, death, resurrection, and a buffet of emotions, it all came down to one final showdown between Hal, Razer, and Aya. The producers couldn't have known at the time that they were crafting a series finale as well as a season finale here. So fans should count themselves lucky that they received an episode that can function as both.
The finale opened with Appa Ali Apsa giving the Green Lanterns a rousing speech before the coming showdown with Aya and her army. It was nice to see the Guardians painted in more of a heroic light for once. The speech also took on new meaning in light of the cancellation, almost as if the writers were telling fans to be strong and trust that all will be well. It was a little disappointing that we didn't see the Guardians join in the actual fight. Considering the stakes, you'd think the little blue guys would want to lend whatever assistance they could. But the show has made a point of emphasizing that none but Scar have retained their combat prowess over the millennia, so it just wasn't in the cards.
That speech segued into another massive space battle between the Lanterns and the Manhunters. I thought this showdown was superior to last week's in terms of its framing and the overall sense of spectacle. The shot of hundreds of green light appearing in the distance was very eye-catching. The battle allowed pretty much every Green Lantern of any consequence on the series to get in a good moment or two. Guy Gardner stuck around and struck up a fun new dynamic with Kilowog (who it seems can't tolerate the braggart any more than Hal can). Even Ch'p showed up to do his bad-ass killer squirrel thing again. This extended action sequences was thrilling and one of the more gorgeously rendered sequences in the show's lifespan.
The emotion really started flowing at that point as the real Aya reasserted herself and realized the horrible cost of her actions. I wouldn't have minded at that point if Razer died from his wounds. All I wanted from this episode was for the two to finally and fully acknowledge their love for one another, and we got that. My one complaint, though, is that the episode shifted from the Razer/Aya reunion pretty abruptly into a new conflict as Aya realized the Manhunters had passed beyond her control and would continue her mandate without her. One minute she's healing Razer, and the next she's uploading a suicide virus. Make no mistake - the raw emotion of her death scene was about as powerful as anything else the show has been able to conjure up. And given the scope of her crimes, Aya needed to make such sort of redemptive sacrifice. But I feel like it could have been handled more organically. Perhaps she could have sacrificed herself to return Hal and Razer to the present and been consumed in the Big Bang. That would have done the trick and left her fate with at least as much ambiguity as the "death by virus" did.
In any case, our heroes saved all of existence and lived to fight another day. There was a certain amount of frustration in watching the ending sequence simply because there was no way the show was going to wrap up every loose end in a handful of moments. There are various tidbits like the status of Scar and the possible rise of the Black Lanterns that will simply never be resolved. It would be interesting to know how differently the producers might have handled these final moments if they had known "Dark Matter" was the series finale. I would have loved a brief montage sequence that revisited all the familiar faces from the preceding 25 episodes - Carol Ferris, the Star Sapphires, the Blue Lanterns, Atrocitus, etc.
But what we got was enough in many ways. The writers delivered a very satisfying and emotional farewell between Hal, Kilowog, and Razer. Kilowog's impromptu hug tugged at the heartstrings almost as much as the final embrace between Razer and Aya. This conclusion was fairly open-ended as it offered a tease of what shape Season 2 might have taken. It was nice to see the episode end on a positive note as Razer flew into the cosmos to search for a trace of his love. The blue ring that trailed him said all that needed to be said about his quest. If there's hope for Razer and Aya, then maybe there's also hope that this saga will continue in some form or another.