It was an underwhelming start. Following the storming opening sequences of Season 2 (man waking up doing morning routine turns out to be what's beneath 'the hatch'!) and Season 3 (Others in houses! On the Island! Plane breaking up in mid-air!) Season 4 had a tough act to follow. The smart thing about it was the inversion of the previous trick (S2 and S3 duped us into thinking we were off the Island when we weren't); the pyramid of fruit against a shoreline proving to be just a billboard before Hurley in his Camaro smashed through it. "I'm one of the Oceanic 6!" he cried (to the somewhat over-reactionary police force that pulled out all the stops to arrest a man that had, basically, knocked down something in a shop as he ran out of it) before the Lost title came up. OK. Let's see where they're going with this. . .
Hurley's flashforward was set before Jack's flashforward. Primarily we knew this because Jack made a priceless comment about considering a beard, but mostly we knew it because Jack here was not Jack of the "We have to go back!" declaration. Here, Jack was resolved to keeping secret what had happened and was checking Hurley was doing the same. Jack/Hurley's time on the Island appears to be undisclosed to the rest of the world: Ana Lucia's police partner speculated that Hurley might have encountered Ana Lucia prior to boarding or onboard Oceanic 815, but the chance that Hurley could have met her at any other time didn't enter his thoughts. That's not insignificant.
Probably the 'real world' believes Oceanic 815 crashed into the ocean (in the Sunda Trench) and all were killed except for the Oceanic 6. (Thus the belief that Ana Lucia and Hurley could have only met prior to the crash; beyond that point was the death of all but 6 on board.) I speculate that Jack was somehow responsible for getting five other people off the plane, perhaps just before it crashed, or sank to the depths, and the 'real world' believes Jack somehow kept them all alive out in the middle of the ocean, or perhaps on a different, known island. Whatever it was, it was heroic and made celebrities of the survivors - enough to warrant autograph resquests!
I'll go further with my speculation and make the statement that Jack, Hurley, Kate and the remaining members of the Oceanic 6 are in collusion to keep secret the fate of the other passengers (who are almost certainly not dead). For reasons unknown, the majority of the Oceanic survivors remain (voluntarily or otherwise) on the Island and the Oceanic 6 were the ones sent back to the 'real world' to maintain the story and prevent the Island from being discovered.
Hurley: "I don't think we did the right thing, Jack. I think it wants us to come back."
The 'it', I think, is the Island. I think the Island convinced the majority of the passengers to remain there (as Locke has consistently believed and been trying to make others believe; as Ben adamantly states is what all his followers should do and works hard to prevent any Others from leaving) and the Oceanic 6 are the ones that ignored the Island's call, promising to never reveal anything about it for the sake of the people they left behind. Apparently, this action has not come without guilt. "They need you," Charlie tells Hurley.
Ah yes, Charlie. Now there was a turn up!
I have to assume that Charlie was not just in Hurley's head. The writers deliberately had a patient see Charlie before Hurley. I believe the point being made was that Charlie's appearance was not like Dave's; Charlie was there. For me, I'd say Charlie was there in the same capacity as Christian Shephard or Yemi were there on the Island. That Hurley could apparently will him away is the most interesting point. Was Jack or Mr. Eko able to will their respective apparitions away on the Island? Is the person who witnesses the apparition more in control than we previously realised? I think of all the mirrors and reflections in the episode and I can't help but wonder if Charlie's apparition was just another method of self-reflection for Hurley. . .
The big deal for most people was Jacob's Cabin so it would be remiss to finish without looking at that. I am unconvinced the Jacob's Cabin Hurley saw is the same one that Ben and Locke journeyed to. The location seemed wrong (too close to the fuselage beach camp), there was no circle of ash and the thing moved around! (I recall the CCTV monitors in the Hydra Station had a camera pointed at Jacob's Cabin and I fail to understand why a fixed camera would be directed at a building that moves around, appearing and disappearing all over the place.) I'm tempted to call it another vision/apparition. That Christian Shephard was sitting in Jacob's chair (I do not for one second believe Christian is (exclusively) Jacob and I would strongly urge you to share that belief!) adds further credence to that idea. I did entertain the idea that 'the eye' that looked back at Hurley belonged to his father, David Reyes (Jack's father and Hurley's father together) but couldn't take that idea anywhere meaningful.
I looked at the eye and tried to work out who it looked like the most. The black hair around the edges discounted, for me, the popular idea that it was Locke. No, looking at it again, do you know who I think it most looked like? Desmond. I think it was Desmond's eye. Although I can't discount that there is a hint of Hurley about it as well - but surely that would be crazy! Honestly, probably, I bet the eye really belongs to a character that we have yet to meet, but that kind of takes the fun out of guessing.