Being a Toys”R”Us kid myself, I don’t wanna grow up. But in “Lost,”it’s damn near impossible for a kid to even be born, never mind grow up. Season 3 teased and prodded the mysteries behind this bizarre scenario, but subsequent seasons were buried in The Freighter Four and time travel to truly follow up on this provocative storyline properly. While the births of Ji Yeon and Ethan Rom were certainly noteworthy, the show’s avoided directly addressing the mystery. But what’s currently missing on the Island probably holds the key.
Namely, the rest of the four-toed statue.
When “Lost” truly tickles the brain, it approaches the point at which realism and fantasy approach the vanishing point in the narrative painting. In other words, when the show confronts the fantastical while grounded in a recognizable reality, it pushes past mere genre fiction into something transcendent. The issue of Island fertility certainly qualifies as a meeting place of science and science fiction, intersecting at a place near and dear for anyone watching the show.
After all, if you’re going to talk about emotional moments in one’s life, you have to talk about the moments that bookend one’s life; birth and death. The problem for many on The Island is that those bookends are in fact intertwined, and have been for a few decades at the least. Ben Linus recruited Juliet Burke to approach the problem from a scientific angle, due to her radical (and morally grey) techniques developed to aid her sister’s attempts to give birth. But Juliet soon discovered that science only got her so far in identifying the problem.
What we “know”, biologically, is that male sperm count on the Island rises while the female body attacks the fetus as a foreign entity roughly two-thirds through pregnancy, ending in death for the unborn child and pregnant mother. We know of at least one woman in her 20s that seemed to have the uterus of someone older than Rose Nadler. We know of three successful on-Island births since 1977: Ethan, Alex, and Aaron. Biologically, that about sums it up.
But we know more things that biology can’t necessarily explain. We know that in addition to experiencing a raised sperm count, one might also experience a sudden ability to walk. The Island giveth cancer, and The Island taketh away cancer. You might find yourself healing quicker than normal, but you might also experience a sudden need to remove your appendix. And above all, we know that at the center of everything is a pocket of unusual energy that seems to have a physiological effect, based on length of exposure. These are all things that fall under the general guise of “science,” but are extremely hard to explain rationally.
Above and beyond THAT are things that are straight-up weird. Smoke monsters. Ageless men. Disembodied voices. Nikki. I mean, weird stuff, man. Amidst all of that, two men that have been pulling the strings for centuries: one continually bringing people to The Island in the name of progress, and one continually decrying the idea of progress as silly as a Backstreet Boys album without Kevin Richardson. And standing above ALL of this used to be a skyscraper of a statue, looking out over the sea. This statue of the Egyptian goddess of childbirth, Tawaret, stood tall as late as the middle of the 19th-century, and crumbled into the sea at some point between then and 1974, as evidenced by the final time flashed experience by Locke and Company during Season 5.
Now, can we safely say that no Tawaret=no childbirth? Unfortunately no, since the three significant on-Island births did not occur in the shadow of the statue. Since we have no idea how long Amy was on the Island before giving birth to Ethan, we can’t simply say, “As long as you give birth within weeks of landing on the Island after getting knocked up off it, you’re totally groovy.” Would be nice to say something definitive about “Lost,” but we all know how difficult that is.
Nevertheless, the destruction of Tawaret is still, in my opinion, a vital component of what’s happening on the Island in terms of the rampant fertility issues. As I’ve said many a time, The Island is a place where not only does the mind matter, but the mind turns into matter. Remember in “Field of Dreams,” where the voice says, “If you build it, he will come”? Well, things work similarly on the Island. Only in this case, if you fear it, it will come true.
In my high-concept, currently non-provable, way out there theory, the destruction of Tawaret dealt a psychic blow to the make-up of the Island, an Island that consists not only of topsoil, hills, and vegetation, but a palpable mental topography that both feeds and feeds off of those that sporadically inhabit it. The survivors of Oceanic 815 did not only become part of a physical ecosystem, but a mental one as well. And that latter ecosystem is very, very sick.
Why is it sick? Not just because of the statue’s destruction, but also one person’s grief. We’ll look at that tomorrow.
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