The promotional group at FOX trumpeted the death of an important character in this episode, which is unfortunate. The impact of the story would have been a lot more powerful if Cromartie's end hadn't been so telegraphed. It doesn't matter that Cromartie's recent success at hunting down the Connors practically demanded some kind of fundamental confrontation. Had this trend continued for much longer, John's continued survival would have become even more ludicrous.
One way or another, Cromartie either had to kill a major character to re-establish his prominence as a threat to the Connors, or he had to be defeated once and for all. The writers took the second option, and in turn, used it to suggest that the Connor Crew has been making too many mistakes. Of course, that was the point of the past few episodes, all of which centered on the lack of cohesion and discipline that has plagued them all since the season premiere.
The unique format of the episode took a rather straightforward story and gave it some artistic flare. In the end, it was still another iteration of "flee, fight, and kill the terminator". By focusing on individual decisions, the story became less about pure action and more about character. As things descend into chaos and a fight for survival, each character's mettle is questioned and tested.
We got to see that Sarah is losing control and feeling the pressure that comes with that realization. We see John running away from fate and others suffering the consequences. We see Derek realizing the cost of being so far removed from the Connors. We see Ellison searching for the purpose that Cromartie swore he will fulfill. We even see Cameron trying to use feminine whiles on John, suggesting that it was something she had done more than once in her past.
The good guys managed to win in the end, but the real question is where they intend to go from here. Riley now knows some measure of the truth about John, and if the writers continue to take the unexpected path, they'll keep her around to challenge John on his assumptions. Cromartie made it clear that Cameron has damage to her chip, leaving her less effective than she should be. In short, this shouldn't be the end of the process of getting back on track; this should just be the moment when they realize how far they've strayed.