after some thought, there were some redeeming qualities in the finale, but they were the same as the rest of the season: the logic of getting these characters to the point they're at in the finale is sound.
we needed to see rick reunite with his family and introduce the group and establish that tension with shane, we needed a mission to both present conflict with asshole survivors (merle), set up obvious future villans (not a spoiler since merle isn't in the book), and to set out rules for what the zombies are like. then they had to show why they couldn't stay in atlanta, including someone turning (amy), and then in this last episode, show that the only hope they'd ever have of returning to a regular world was gone. and then they're on the road.
so it sets up season 2 well, and that i appreciate. the only problem is that, apart from shane, darryl, glenn, and morgan (who don't get enough focus), it's not compelling tv. who gives a shit if jacqui is left behind? clearly no one, because even THE OTHER BLACK PERSON flees without her. add to that the acting of rick and andrea, which i think is inconsistent as hell, combined with the dialogue, and it's just the feeling that it could be so much better. but that hope is why i'll watch next year.
that, and darryl axing zombie heads off.