Lost Never Solved Its Weirdest Sci-Fi Mystery, But This Episode Came Close
No, we’re not talking about the numbers...
There was no shortage of unsolved mysteries on Lost. From the numbers to that giant foot statue, the series never hesitated to ask questions it couldn’t answer, but none were quite as bizarre as the mystery of why nobody could give birth on the island. However, one episode came close to giving fans an answer — or at the very least, planted the seeds for what might have become a solution.
Lost Season 3 Episode 7, “Not in Portland,” marked the return of the show after a 13-week-long winter hiatus. It was also the first episode to focus on Dr. Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell), giving fans some much-needed insight into one of the show’s most intriguing characters at the time.
Juliet was an “Other” introduced at the start of Season 3, and it soon became clear that she was connected to their efforts to kidnap Claire and her baby. In “Not in Portland,” we learn how Juliet came to live on the island and how she connects to Lost’s childbirth mystery.
In flashbacks, we meet Juliet, a fertility doctor living in Miami, Florida. Juliet’s sister is infertile due to chemotherapy, but Juliet has been using an experimental treatment to cure her condition. Shockingly, it works, but Juliet’s boss (who also happens to be her ex-husband) casually implies that he wants partial ownership over this new miracle cure.
Lucky for Juliet, she’s soon approached by none other than Richard Alpert — Nestor Carbonell in his first-ever appearance on Lost — who poses as a representative of a medical research company and attempts to recruit Juliet. Richard offers Juliet a tempting job in “Portland” where she’ll have a chance to solve the childbirth mystery. He’s later joined by Ethan (William Mapother) who helps seal the deal. But it’s only when Juliet finally agrees and asks if her sister can come too that they admit the job is “not quite in Portland.”
Meanwhile, on the island, Jack (Matthew Fox) is in the middle of surgery on Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) when he uses the opportunity to hold Ben hostage and demand that the Others free Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway). After Juliet helps them escape, Jack finishes the surgery and Ben survives. We later learn that Ben promised Juliet she could finally leave the island if she helped him.
Lost didn’t actually solve the mystery that brought Juliet to the island. While plenty of clues were offered, we never learned exactly why so many women were unable to give birth.
Of course, the fans had plenty of theories. The most popular is that the Incident — in which an electromagnetic force was unleashed leading to the creation of the Hatch — was to blame. This would also explain why members of the Dharma Initiative had no trouble giving birth before the Incident.
Others suggested it was leaking radiation from that hydrogen bomb. Or perhaps some combination of the two.
Like so many of Lost’s mysteries, this one was never truly solved. But in “Not in Portland,” the show came pretty close to promising an answer.