The first season of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" took the show from rather pedestrian territory to more fertile ground, especially once the series-specific conflicts were established and the character of Derek Reese emerged on the scene. In the manner of most mid-season runs, the first season was an introduction, and from my perspective, a successful one.
The fact remains, however, that the second season had to begin with an episode that would resolve the first season cliffhanger and affirm the mission statement of the series. As such things go, the premise is predictably simple. Sarah and John Connor run from a terminator, in this case a damaged Cameron, and Derek Reese and Charlie (Sarah's one-time fiance) race to find and help them. Meanwhile, the forces behind SkyNet take control of the Turk, the precursor to the deadly AI, and Agent Ellison wonders why Cromartie, another terminator, is so willing to let him stay alive.
It may sound complicated, but for fans of the series, this is about as simple as it gets. Only two main questions lingered over events: could/would Cameron be restored as John's protector, and what was the deal with Shirley Manson's character? One answer was fairly obvious. No matter what else happened, the producers were not going to dispense with the gorgeous Summer Glau. So it was mostly a question of how Cameron would be repaired.
Generally speaking, it was done well. Cameron's attempt to undermine John's actions during the critical shutdown scene worked very well, and touched on the hints of an emotional relationship between John and his lethal guardian. Less convincing was his decision to place his life in Cameron's hands. The scene was meant to show John's growing leadership, to be sure, but it was less calculated than incredibly foolhardy.
It's also hard to imagine that Sarah would take John's reckless choice so well. She practically commends him on his behavior and barely treats Cameron differently. I'm not sure that having Cameron go rogue in this fashion was the best move at this point; the questions surrounding her true mission were more interesting when a fault-driven killing spree wasn't a potential issue. The possibility of a hardware glitch causing her to attack in the future makes her presence less logical.
That said, the first season established that the series is an "alternate universe". The characters are not necessarily the same, even if they made familiar choices in the past. This Sarah is softer in tone and less damaged in mental state. John is logically caught in the whiny and rebellious teenage psychology. Remembering this doesn't erase all the writing conveniences, but it does keep the series from becoming an exercise in frustration.
The introduction of Shirley Manson's character was surprising. Frankly, I wasn't sold on the casting. As much as I love Manson as the front woman for Garbage, I had no faith in her acting ability. At first, my fears seemed to be confirmed. That final twist at the end of the episode completely changed my mind. I'm willing to see where this plot element evolves, since it adds another layer to the mix.
I'm also curious to know whether or not the various allusions to Biblical figures, and the terminators' apparent interest in human religion, will be meaningful in the long run. Cameron's question about the Resurrection was timely, of course, but some of the other comments felt more portentous. Hopefully the ratings will hold up, FOX will remain patient, and we'll all have time to find out.