It's not unexpected. It's a 50 episode series with a large portion of the budget spent on music. All they had to do was make Freedom look like a complete monster for a while, and they did it - a little too showy for my tastes, but most people liked it, so it was effective... I guess.
This is SEED's best arc by quite a bit. The show overall is nowhere near as bad as it gets made out to be - it's decent-to-good depending on the parts of it. There's one really fucking stupid segment that makes no sense that is also kind of a big deal in the plot.
After this arc we have a slooow water arc and then some cool stuff, then TEAM PERFECT MORALS SAVING THE DAY!
Overall though, really, it's hated on far too much. To be expected since it's so popular, and then SEED:D is just utterly awful... And it does quite a few annoying things in itself anyways, like all the Gundam spam on all sides and simple shit like that.
Enjoy this arc, because this is really the height of the character drama aspect and some of the best battles.