Another cool confirmation: Richard did indeed arrive on the Black Rock. In fact, he hasn't been back to that ship in all the time he's been on the island (must have some bad memories associated with it?). As speculated several postings ago, Richard was once in chains on that ship, and this would appear to be confirmed by the way he walks right up to a set of shackles and has a moment of reflection and recognizance. Of course, you don't usually chain up good and innocent men, so one has to wonder about Richard's past, and wait patiently for the Richard-centric episode we all have been anticipating for so long. At least our good writers and producers did us the favor of once again giving Hurley some dialogue to shut up the fanboy theorists. Kinda like when they had Hurley ask Sayid if he was a zombie ("no"), Hurley now gets everything from time travel to cyborgs to vampires out of the way with Ageless Richard. He is none of the above, and the real answer is both simple and complex. He was touched by Jacob. There is both not much more to it than that, and also a whole lot more to tell about it.

As the episode closes, I got a strong sense that whereas in Sundown the forces of "The Legion of Doom" were assembling, here on the beach our "Justice League" is convening. We are treated to a closing montage akin to those that were so prevalent in previous seasons -- a group of lost Losties returns to the beach, music plays, much hugging. And sometimes, an outsider would be along for the ride, like Juliet. This time it's Richard. And when I think of all the characters whom I put more trust in than others, I count among them, well, Hurley. Especially Hurley. But also Richard. And Jack. And Sun. And Lapidus. Even Ilana and a reformed Ben. So when Widmore shows up, that just throws it all into a tizzy. Which side is he on?

Widmore learns of the group on the beach but orders his man to "proceed as planned" anyway. With so little information available to us, this would seem threatening, as if he had planned some assault on the beach, and people be damned, he's going through with it. But that's not necessarily the case. He may have no malicious intent at all. In fact, it would be my argument that this is who Hurley was tasked with using the Lighthouse to help get to the island (I never considered that task a red herring, nor Jacob's belief that, oh well, Jack broke the Lightouse, guess my group will find another way to get here). There's a case to be made that Widmore has been on Team Jacob all along, that Ben merely set himself up as Charles's enemy from the "Machiavellian maneuvers" he employed to get Charles ousted and take his job, and therefore always assumed Charles did not have the island's best interests at heart in his attempts to relocate it. But consider how it was Widmore's man Abaddon who put the Walkabout idea in Candidate Locke's head. And how Widmore assisted Sun in her return to the island, and tasked Locke with getting the O6 to return. He knew a war was coming. And now he's so concerned about it that he's showing up to fight in it himself... OR he could just be bringing the submarine to help Evil Flocke & Co. escape the island...

Things Learned from Pop-Up LOST
Each week we look at what the production team did and did not want us to clue into from the previous episode by what they purposefully typed onto the screen in the re-run...

Notably Mentioned

I had attempted to discern what book Dogen had been reading when Sayid marched into his quarters, but I could never make it out on my screen. In the re-run, we're told this book is Deep River, by Shusaku Endo, and that it is the story of four Japanese tourists to India who find spiritual rebirth along the Ganges. Well, that obviously has some LOST parallels, even more so when you consider that the characters are haunted by issues of death-by-cancer, horrors of war, inability to love, and substitutionary death.