'Big Love' Finale: What Critics Are Saying

Isabella Vosmikova/HBO

One says the HBO series had the "perfect finish," while another laments it was a "major letdown."

Big Love went off the air Sunday night after five seasons. What did the critics think of the final episode of the HBO polygamy series -- spoiler alert -- in which the protagonist Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) was killed off?

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman has written that Paxton played the role with  "a certain strictness that doesn’t allow anyone to embrace him" (and that he "never gives a compelling argument for plural marriage") -- so as a result, "you never worried if he got caught and went to jail. Or died."

The New York Times seemed to rationalize that Henrickson needed to go in the end.

'Aiming to conclude with an unambiguous sense of resolution that “The Sopranos” vetoed, the writers Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer chose to kill off their protagonist in a lionizing fashion, almost as if they had grown guilty for spending so much time soliciting our contempt for him," wrote Times critic Ginia Bellafonte.

The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara called the ending "a perfect finish to an astonishingly ambitious show that often careened through genre, narrative structure and believability like they were false walls on a stage." (She also notes: "To have remained a “perfect” show, “Big Love” probably should have ended two seasons ago, before the action began moving away from the original nexus of family drama, spreading voracious tendrils of subplot all over the place like so much bougainvillea.")

But TV Fanatic.com called the finale a "major letdown."

"When Men and Mountains Meet had some shocking scenes, but overall I felt disappointed with how the show ended. This was the final episode, after all, and I felt that the writers held out in some areas, while rushing to complete other storylines," wrote blogger Michelle Edwards.

Edwards did find one bright spot: "It was sad to say goodbye to such a beloved show, but I am happy that it ended with the sister-wives together and the original song revamped and sung by a woman. God only knows what we'll be without you, Big Love."

Writing for TV Squad, Binghamton University professor Dr. Ryan Vaughn said the show  had all the "major finale highlights" such as resolution, closure, drama and suspense, but "it didn't really hit any of them with much force, leaving the show's legacy somewhat up for grabs. I'm not going to let a great series be sullied with a mediocre finale."

Watch the final moments, below: