My friend who is a professional movie critic and also watches OuaT offers this explanation for why Neal’s death actually does make sense dramatically:
“For one thing, it evens the scales. Rumple sacrificed himself. Neal got to do the same. It also brings their relationship full circle to a final reconciliation. That gives the drama extra weight.”
I’d also add that his death makes their battle with Zelena more personal.
Of course, I’m still greatly saddened as I really wanted a happy ending for him and Emma or at least a great friendship/co-parenting. I think they could have told more stories with him. But I’m not angry with the writers. All the anger I’m seeing is disheartening and makes me more distraught than the episode itself! I don’t like seeing my friends angry.