First of all, how beautiful is it that season four opens with a Hurley-centric episode? Except... Hurley is just as miserable in the future as Jack is. Why, oh why did they go back? Presumably, Hurley's main motivation was his mother. Where's she in all of this? And if I saw my dearly departed friend in a convenience store, I would think I would be overjoyed rather than terrified. What's Charlie gonna do to you, Hurley? Spit water at you?
But I loved how focused the episode - which I suddenly realized I don't know the name of - was on Charlie. I knew Hurley would take it really hard, but I imagined Claire being the one to go ballistic, and it really was the other way around. I think it was very appropriate, though, that Hurley was the one to break the news. I was rather hoping it would be; the connection there is much deeper, and Claire was in major need of a Hurley hug at that moment. She looked so luminous throughout this episode, and I just felt so bad for her when they all showed up and Sun and Rose ran to their husbands, and her expectant smile turned into a slightly worried frown, and Hurley didn't have to say the words before she knew the truth.
I found his speech to Jack both rousing and touching - though a tad troubling in light of the flash forward. Why was going with John the wrong call? What happened? At any rate, throughout the whole episode we really get a sense of the depth of Hurley's friendship with Charlie. I was also very moved by Sawyer's rather clumsy attempts to reach out to Hurley. Grief and empathy can help one heal; maybe in death, Charlie can help Sawyer to make a fresh start at last. Incidentally, no long goodbyes for any of the Others. Colleen's was actually quite beautiful. But Ben and Juliet are the only Others on hand, and Ben's tied up, while Juliet's jumped ship. I don't think either is too concerned about funeral rites at the moment.
Charlie looked and sounded amazing in this episode. So serene, cleaner than we've ever seen him, totally at peace, yet still very much in possession of his sly wit. What did it all mean? "I am dead, but I'm here." Was he really? I took him at his word, that he was more than a hallucination. Who knows? Yemi, Boone and Christian seem to have spoken from beyond the grave as well. I can't make hide nor hair of Darlton's mythology, but I sure was glad to see Charlie again. While it didn't make me cry like Jonathan Kent's last conversation with Clark did, it somehow made me feel much more hopeful. I don't think Hurley will let himself truly give into despair. But who is "them"? Jack and the other known survivors, or those still on the island? Or both?
By the way, when Hurley said, "I'm one of the Oceanic Six," Libbie and I just repeated incredulously, "Six?!" Goodness gracious. Horrible! Unless it just means there's a big ol' castaway settlement back on the island, and most of them decided they'd rather stay. That's not nearly as depressing. But if so many stayed, why would those six have returned?
I was thrilled to see Rose and Bernard playing such a prominent role again, though I was surprised that Rose went with Jack instead of John when she thinks leaving the island might mean having her cancer come back. I hope that Rose remains a major force. She and John both have been touched by miracles, but she reacts to hers in a very different way. Rose's is a much more mature faith than John's, and when it comes down to it he is much more like Jack than he might like to admit. He needs to have answers. He needs explanations for everything; he just may be a little more open-minded than Jack when it comes to what those explanations might entail. Rose just goes about her business and trusts that things will work out the way they're supposed to.
Poor Ben really was a mess tonight. He was almost back to Henry status, though he wasn't quite so sniveling as he was then. Actually, he cracked me up half the time he was on screen. Ben can be a very funny guy, and it's a mark of how badly he wants to maintain some degree of control over his situation that he is able to make snidely wry remarks when he's in such a predicament. I really did feel bad for him, though, when Danielle socked him in the face; he probably had it coming, but I do believe that in that moment he was genuinely concerned for their welfare and was trying to save them. (And why was everybody so slap-happy tonight? Jack was ready to beat John within an inch of his life, and Charlie whapped Hurley pretty good too. And I was shocked when Jack actually tried to shoot John. Never thought he'd do it.) Jack's "He's all yours" comment was priceless. Which one was he talking to? It could go either way!
Desmond was a desperate gun-toting basket-case. It was heartbreaking when he had to explain to Hurley that Charlie wasn't coming back. I think he's going to have major issues this season - as if he didn't already. I hear a rumor we're going to find out why he wound up in prison during his army service. I can't wait to see that. I think right now he just wants to do something proactive to keep his mind off his misery. In the back of his mind, meanwhile, there is the happy thought that Penny is still out there looking for him, and that now she knows he is waiting to be found.
Hurley deserves happiness. There's a sense that his exuberant cannonball is the last purely joyful moment he's going to have for a very long time, and that makes me sad. This season will be even darker than the last, I suppose, which is troublesome, but there will be enough levity to keep us afloat. Speaking of which... Where are you, Christmas? I have an uneasy feeling it just came and went without being acknowledged. Most unsatisfying!
The new "I wouldn't say rescuing you is our primary objective" guy looks eerily like Charlie, though he sounds nothing like him. I'm still mourning the loss of a potential Billy and Dom reunion. Why couldn't you figure out a way to work that into the script, writer? Couldn't you have made Billy that scummy pal of his in the goofy copier flashback? That would have been something at least... But I digress.
Who are the other three Oceanic survivors who returned? We know it's Jack, Kate and Hurley. I can't imagine John would have left unless someone dragged him kicking and screaming, and same goes for Ben, who wasn't an Oceanic survivor anyway. Dad thought Michael might have been in the coffin, and I hadn't really considered that one before, but it's certainly a possibility. Presumably he would have been one of the Six, so that only five remain at the time when Jack meets Kate and tells her they have to go back. So many possibilities...
And then there's Jacob, who it would seem Hurley can see. When we caught a glimpse of him, he looked like Christian to me, or was that just my imagination? I'm not sure. But it would not surprise me at all to learn that Hurley, too, is "special". Notice how the Hurleybird started up again as he neared the cabin. Someone needs to tell him something. Hurley is tapped into the island. He just may not realize it yet.
Every time I think I'm done typing, I think of something else, but I probably ought to wrap it up now. I thought it was a phenomenal opener, and I want to give Hurley a ginormous hug right now. I don't like the dreary futures that seem to be unfolding, but I will keep the faith. They're in good hands with Hurley.