CANON APOCAFIC! :D :D :D
(Actually, it's totally a canon version of "Freedom's Just Another Word ..." -- only with a fix at the end!)
And I loved it, from the creepy, wonderfully SF feel of abandoned, sand-covered Atlantis, to the way they carried the season's plot threads forward to an apocalyptic finish, to all the death scenes, which actually made me cry a little bit (especially Sam's) and that almost never happens for me, to Sheppard's expressions and his interactions with holo-Rodney. Poor, poor Rodney, the last one of the original group, devoting his life to creating a timeline where it didn't happen. Between his comment to Lorne about things not going so well on Earth, and the way they scaled back their Atlantis operations, obviously Earth is having its own (unspecified, fill-in-your-own) problems. Technically, Jennifer was right that he ought to move on, in a sane rational universe where time travel isn't possible ... I suppose you could easily create that as an alternate fork in this timeline. Though obviously, it's a good thing he didn't -- and I was thinking during her goodbye scene that an obsession with something scientific is probably exactly what Rodney does need to get him through the loss of his friends and his wife/girlfriend/partner and Atlantis itself. Though maybe not a 25-year obsession ...
Apocafic for the win! :D
(Here's an interesting thing to mull over, though. We never found out how Rodney died, which is understandable since the hologram wouldn't know, but ... something that occurred to me at the end is that there is absolutely NOTHING in the episode to prove that it wasn't the real Rodney, in Ascended form, pretending to be a hologram, kind of like the one in "Pegasus Project". We never saw how Rodney died, we never saw what his "Eureka!" moment of inspiration actually was, or how he got to Atlantis after talking to Lorne, and we have no way of knowing that what he told Sheppard at the beginning about the hologram setup wasn't just to throw off Sheppard's curiosity. Maybe he came back to Atlantis just to use the Ascension machine again. We just don't know!)
Anyway, I really loved it and I was SO glad to be completely unspoiled -- I didn't know a thing about it, so everything was a surprise, and I got that pleasantly cool spine-shivery feeling from apocalypse-Atlantis that is one of the things I love the most about science fiction. (They really should have checked to see if their sun was within a few thousand years of going red dwarf when they first landed on the planet, though, wouldn't one think?) I don't mind the "fix" at the end because, well, it was very obvious as soon as the situation became clear that they would fix it. I wonder if this was planned as the series ender back when they didn't know if they'd be picked up for a fourth season, because it could have then tied up (rather sloppily) in the last act and capped off the series .... I'm glad they didn't go that way, though; as a series ender, it's a little too much like Unending, really.
I'm deliberately not thinking too much about the cliffhanger, because -- it's such an h/c scenario, but I expect there probably won't be anything like that (no doubt they'll dig themselves out at the start of next season and carry on) ... so, not so much of a cliffhanger, really, compared to the ones they've had in the past! I just don't want to get up my hopes for h/c and emotion-filled reunions and then be disappointed. But ... wonderful episode, I loved it -- a great finish for the season.
Off to see what other people thought.