At least Shelby grows by the end of the second part. She emerges as both competent and more likable, putting the mission's success above her leadership ambitions.
As for the episode itself, no cliffhanger I've ever seen on television has compared to this one.
Another thing: Don't get me wrong, I like Riker, but after BOBW he should have been made Captain or written out of the series. BOBW marked the summit of his character development, where he emerged from Picard's shadow, becoming a great captain in his own right. He had nowhere to go after this but down. This was the end of great Riker and the beginning of neutered Riker.