This post kicks off a series of firsts for me: first time participating in the first discussion of the first anime I've ever really gotten attached to. Ironic that I decide to post towards the END of the series, but that's besides the point...
Some excellent discussion so far in this thread, but there were two aspects of episode 50 that I wanted to expand on and discuss. The first being, of course, the death of Edward. While poignant and for all intensive purposes tragic, in retrospect, it had to happen. All throughout the series, Ed maintained that the theory of Equivalent Exchange was a binding, solid truth. Even towards the end, as he was told by everyone he encountered, Hohenheim, Dante, et al, that Equivalent Exhange was a red herring, he maintained the mantra that hard work and perseverence will always result in returns equal to the amount of effort placed to attain said goals. Ed worked extremely hard for many years to reach his goal, and with it nearly in his grasp, he himself falls to the blade of his nemesis, proving finally that reality is harsh, and that life does not always reward those that work with extreme vigor and passion to realize their dreams. Does it take away from the fact that it still sucks that Ed is gone, no; but in retrospect it was a necessary piece to complete the series.
Just as an aside...sadly the shock of Ed's death was lessened due to watching one or two AMVs that happened to include scenes of Envy's slaughter of Ed. It was more of a shock then, but at least now I understand it came to such an end.
Another aspect of the series I find interesting is the recently discovered (onto us and to Ed) that the world that lies beyond the gate is the world that we know. The dialogue between Hohenheim and Edward before the zepplin falls on Ed is particularly eye-openning in that Hohenheim explains that the world beyond the gate is much like their home world, except that alchemy is not possibly. The parallels between each word and their existance in time is fascinating. The Fuhrer's advance on the Ishbalans seems to parallel Hittler's assault on the Jews. The British warplanes attacking the zepplins seems to mirror the uprising staged by Mustang, Armstrong, and company against the Fuhrer's reign. There are other intricate similarities throughout as well, such as the fact that King Bradley is referred to as "Fuhrer" which is German for a tryannical leader.
Other than that, I'm anxiously awaiting the final episode, while at the same time wondering how in the world they plan on bringing everything to a close in less than 30 minutes. But it's been a fun ride. Before Fullmetal Alchemist, I really had only a passing interest in anime in general. I always found the animation to be of interest, but I couldn't get past the funky storylines. FMA however, seized me in, and I've been hooked ever since. Glad to see so many others share a similar passion for the series.