Hurley's fear of change brings a new aspect to the show, and adds more depth to the character, but the plot of this episode ultimately falls pretty flat, and the viewer is left asking, "What's the point?" This is not the last time a plot will be contrived simply to give a character a chance to develop, although it should be.
As I said, Hurley's issues with the stuff in the pantry are not something that has to be addressed, and it could easily have become a subplot in a later episode. Instead, we watch an uninteresting and irrelevant story, with a Hurley that seems strange to us. Jorge Garcia, I have to say, does nothing wrong, and the writing is to blame for the story problem. It just seems strange that everybody hates Hugo because he won't give them all the food they ask for, at least according to Hurley. A quick explanation would certainly take care of any problems that came up. The idea that everyone will resent him helps tie into the flashbacks, but the fact that that's all the justification for the story is pretty ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as Hurley's sudden okayness with handling dynamite, seeing as how he held it at arm's length or further in last season's finale, but still ridiculous.
The thing that really annoys me about the episode, though, is that the flashbacks are there to justify the main story! Both things are working to help prop up the other, but they still hit the floor. There's really no lasting importance to the flashbacks, and the fact that Johnny immediately turns on Hurley upon finding out that he won the lottery shows that he wasn't that dedicated of a friend anyway. Hurley being smart enough to take care of a bunch of things before cashing in on his win is a little hard to believe too, as Hurley has never been that clever in previous episodes. There are a couple laughs in the flashbacks, but that's really all the positive that can be taken from them.
The only enjoyable thing that comes from that storyline is the montage at the end of the episode. It's obviously not important in terms of the overall narrative, but it's still enjoyable to see the camp together and happy. Jack and Kate laughing and chatting, Locke handing out cookies, and Claire and Charlie eating the peanut butter, while not everyone's cup of tea, does make me smile.
There are a number of subplots in this episode, and that's what picks it up. The most notable is the raft guys in the pit. They're let out, and learn that their captors are all survivors from the tail section. Once again, the plot really just serves to set up the tailies a little bit more, and doesn't feature a lot more than empty banter between Sawyer and Ana-Lucia until the end. We meet Libby, and see a little bit more of "Shaft's" personality. The group lives in a Dharma bunker, and there are only five of them, which was originally twenty-three. The best scene of this storyline is when Bernard asks about Rose. It's very subtly played, and you can tell that Bernard has been working up his nerve to ask this question since the guys arrived in the bunker hours earlier. Sam Anderson is a great actor, and the scene is very touching. It's also nice that Rose is back in the episode, not only because L. Scott Caldwell is so great as the character, but because it helps complete the Bernard introduction. Her saving the candy for him is a nice touch.
Claire, meanwhile, discovers the bottle with messages that went out on the raft. This really just serves to set up a storyline in the next episode, and, I suspect, involve the other three female characters in the story, since they have been absent for the first three episodes this year. There's also a fairly moving scene when Sun buries the bottle, and it symbolizes her burying her husband. Claire is also referenced quite a bit by Charlie, who is seeking peanut butter from the hatch. Charlie is pretty venomous throughout this whole episode, and it's not very endearing. Being angry about not getting peanut butter is one thing, but spitting poison at Hurley about it, and his pure rage when Hurley's lottery winnings are mentioned is quite another. Charlie's anger at the world in the last few episodes comes out of left field, and one can only think he'll get worse once his stash is discovered.
Jack and Sayid investigate the hatch, and the cement wall that Jack found. Sayid comments that the concrete is poured like it was at Chernobyl, which raises interesting questions about just how powerful the magnet behind the wall is. Desmond didn't say anything about it before he took off, and now the group is left to man the button and guess at the secrets the hatch contains. Locke is the one who has to convince people to push the button. The wavering faith he demonstrated in the previous episode is gone, and he now believes in the button full-time, thinking it is his purpose for being on the island, and that maybe it's not as bad as it seems. However, the fact that his faith did waver is important, and will continue.
The last little thing that could be commented on is the scene in the shower between Jack and Kate. The scene emits a lot of sparks, and is ammunition for the Jack/Kate shippers. The love triangle between Jack, Kate, and Sawyer has become a line right now though, as Sawyer is now on the other side of the island. Lost isn't a soap opera, though, so don't expect a lot more than what we already have.
Overall, this episode isn't miserable, but it's not good either. The main plot is basically filler, and the subplots are really what save the episode. That, and Michael Giacchino's score, which uses a lot of old themes from Season 1, as well as the new theme that plays during the beach party. The next episode will be better than this one, but still not spectacular.