I watched this episode with a couple of friends who had not seen either the first episode, nor any part of the original unaired pilot (about 40 minutes of which I have seen). Frankly I found very little wrong with the first aired episode, and REALLY enjoyed the ending.
The problem with 1x02 was that not only did my two friends who were being introduced to the show by this episode say "eh." after it was over, _I_ said "eh." after it was over.
Don't get me wrong. The additional character development in the interrogation scene (where they all sit down one at a time with the Alliance commander to be interviewed about the goings on) was amazingly good. I also liked the non-serious antics by the crew members under different circumstances (the proximity alert going off and the Pilot going with the "Who's flying this thing! Oh... me. Back to work," gag).
Unfortunately they hit us a bit too hard over the head with the "I'm religious/I'm NOT religious" banter between Mal and the minister guy. It seems less like actual dialog and more like a bunch of dichotomy lines of prose from one author that wants us to wonder which side of the fence he/she is on.
I'm also disliking the feeling that I'm getting that the big arch of the story for this series is going to be Mal coming to terms with his godlessness which he probably "lost" during the war when his girlfriend got skinned alive by Reavers (or what have you), and becoming a much more "spiritual" person by the end of the first season as he becomes closer friends with the Kung-Fu Minister.
I also didn't like the idea that Reavers could inflict so much trauma on an individual that they would "want to turn into one because they have no other option in their now warped mind." I'm sorry but I'm with the Minister on this one very small point: people see sick shit all the time, and the sane people don't go and try to emulate it within hours of experiencing a traumatizing event. We ESPECIALLY do not take large knife like utencils and SPLIT OUR OWN TOUGUES to emulate someone.
To save this point, Reavers should be a split off race of humans that have become infested with a VIRUS that spreads insanity to those in proximity. Otherwise it just doesn't seem plausible, and it looks like Joss and Co. are trying to bring in some of the cut and dry badguy/demon type characters from Buffy and Angel so that the good guys will have people to kill without any conscience. With handcuffs no less!
I like the premise of the show, and I understand these are still sort of "meet the family" sort of stories... but I'm seeing some directions that I don't care to watch. :(