This is a long theory but worth the read, I think. . .
So, many of you have probably seen that BringerofLight posted some genuine and reasonable questions about inconsistencies in Lost and unanswered mysteries. If you missed his post and appreciate a long, well-thought-out gripe, you should head here and read what he had to say:
The post is quite long but I enjoyed reading it, despite the disagreements I have with it. I originally wrote this as a response to his musings, but decided that my reply served as a fairly strong explanatory theory for many unresolved "mysteries" on the Island, specifically the "new" washer and dryer in the Hatch, and why pregnant women could not give birth on the Island.
Essentially, my theory postulates that (1) many things perceived as mysteries were simply errors in production which, coupled with the show's focus on the unexplained, the rise of the DVR as a tool for examining the show more closely, and the heightened scrutiny of Lost's rabid fan-base and theorists, became mysteries not because the producers so intended, but rather because fans debated them, and (2) explicit statements given in the first, third, and sixth seasons, when examined in light of the overall storylines and mythology of the show, more than adequately explain the pregnancy issues, despite the lack of a clear statement in the show explaining the cause and nature of those issues.
BringerofLight's post suggests that "major" mysteries which entire seasons revolved around did not get answered, but points only to (1) the washer and dryer in the Hatch being too new, and (2) the pregnancy issue. Of the two, only pregnancy was a major plot line, and a little deduction can create a reasonably consistent answer to the mystery.
First, I have to say that I was never that concerned with the washer and dryer, which could be why BringerofLight and I differ on the issue. But, frankly, I think their existence was a simple set design error which the producers felt they at least needed to acknowledge, and for a very specific reason. Yes, there is no reasonable way to explain their presence within the confines of the story itself. And I think they realized this, so they had Libby (or Hurley, I forget who) say "It washes clothes, that's all I need to know." This, in my opinion, is the producers flat out TELLING us that the washer and dryer are NOT important.
So why, you might ask, address their existence in the show at all? Why not just let them sit as a background element of the Hatch? Well, because, in a way, Lost set itself up for failure from the very beginning of the show, but only for certain fans and to a certain extent. What I mean by this is, by introducing all these crazy mysteries, and airing this show right during the rise of the DVR, they created a fan base which had the tools and the incentive to scrutinize everything in the show. So, things that were simply ERRORS suddenly became "mysteries", whether intentional or not. The issue was exacerbated by fans and theorists like Vozzek, who insisted that the production crew were flawlessly infallible and intended for every error in production to be a "clue" to some greater mystery.
But the reality is, all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one. And this brings me to my ultimate point about the washer and dryer. Within the context of the storyline, you are right - their existence in the Hatch is completely unexplainable. But, in the context of Lost as a television program, their presence is extremely explainable - someone dropped the ball. Maybe it was the set designer, who ordered a washer and dryer without thinking about "when" they should be from. Maybe, and more likely, someone on the shipping end screwed up and sent the crew a modern set of washer and dryer, and the problem simply couldn't be corrected before they had to start shooting Hatch interiors. Once they were there, they couldn't realistically change them in the background without theorists pointing to the change and screaming to the heavens "TIME WARP! ALTERNATE UNIVERSE!" so they simply addressed their existence in a scene with Libby and Hurley and said, in essence, "sorry guys, we screwed up, but just ignore this. They are a washer and dryer - that's all we ever meant them to be."
Unfortunately, the point of their acknowledging them seemed to be lost on a lot of fans. Sometimes we handle things, and think the outcome will be one thing, but it actually is something unexpected. Hence, the acknowledging scene became, to many, a "clue" to the Hatch itself, despite that being the intent neither in their anachronistic presence nor the conversation acknowledging that they were so new.
I think this happened many times, with many different "mysteries." The producers just screwed up. They're human. Another quick and specific example is that they forgot a critical statement made by the pilot of Oceanic 815 in the pilot episode - that their equipment had jammed so by the time the plane crashed, it was 1,000 miles off-course. Thus, there was no reason to show the island at the bottom of the ocean in "LA X", because the plane simply could not have flown over the Island AND landed safely at LAX. By the time they crashed, the plane was headed to Fiji. Someone forgot that this was the case, so they showed the plane flying over the sunken Island in the flash-sideways timeline (I know arguments could be made that, since the flash-sideways was a "limbo" of sorts, there is no inconsistency here, but there necessarily must be, since none of the FST 815ers were even cognizant of the Island at this point - the Island was shown solely for the audience's benefit - or detriment, as the case actually was).
Getting to the pregnancy complaint - yes, you're right that this WAS a major mystery, and it was never EXPLICITLY answered, i.e. no one said "the reason people cannot have children is X." But, looking at the show as a whole, we can reconcile a lot, if not all, of the apparent inconsistencies with childbirth, and are even given a major hint at the end of the series as to WHY women could not have children on the Island.
First, the inconsistencies. Claire, Rousseau, Claudia, and Amy all gave birth on the Island. Many Others died trying to give birth on the Island so Juliet could figure out what the problem was. Amy being a possible exception, all women who gave birth successfully in the Island had one thing in common: they got pregnant OFF the Island. We never learn when and how Amy became pregnant, so there is possibly no inconsistency here whatsoever. After three years trying to figure out the problem, what does Juliet say? "I think it happens at conception." She then pleads with Ben to let her take a woman who got pregnant ON the Island to the mainland to see if the problem still exists.
Okay, so at this point, we still have issues left unresolved. I believe they CAN be reconciled given a key statement Jacob made in "What They Died For". Kate asks Jacob why her name was crossed out. Jacob replies "because you became a mother." Some have decided that this meant he didn't want her to have to deal with the hardships of being the Island's protector because she had a child to take care of. I take a different viewpoint which goes a long way in reconciling many issues on the Island, pregnancy included. I believe one of Jacob's rules was "no mothers" because HIS family had so many difficult and unresolved mother issues.
Way back in Season 1, people were asking Lidelof and Cuse if the fact that all the 815ers had parent issues was a relevant clue, to which they replied that people were "definitely asking the right questions." Six years later, we found out they weren't BS-ing us - Jacob selected all these people because they were like him. Included in this is the fact that they, like Jacob, had issues with parents. Because Jacob's issues arose due to his mother, he came up with a rule that mothers could not protect the Island.
Taking the "no mothers" rule to its logical conclusion (based on my interpretation of Jacob's motivations), it seems only right that he would use his mystical, magical powers to prevent his female candidates from giving birth on the Island. But, as Juliet correctly postulated, the problem occurs at conception. However, it doesn't STOP at conception. It stops when the mother fails to carry to term. It's really an ongoing problem. So, Jacob's rule stops women from successfully carrying to term. The unresolved portion of my theory is that, for some reason, Jacob can only CREATE this pregnancy issue at conception. Thus, if a woman became pregnant before coming to the Island, Jacob could not stop the child from being born. This is because Jacob's magic is most powerful on the Island. So, he couldn't APPLY his rule to women coming TO the Island already pregnant. This resolves most, if not all issues, regarding why some women were able to give birth on the Island while others died. Jacob created a rule, which could only be applied at conception, and Juliet was correct in her theory that this was the case.
By now you are no doubt wondering about Sun. Sun almost definitely got pregnant on the Island (I say almost because there is the possibility that Juliet lied to Sun about when she got pregnant. Considering that Juliet performed the ultrasound at a time when all the 815ers rightfully distrusted her, she could have lied to Sun in order to gain trust and a new ally. We know the Others are a bunch of liars, and Juliet's motivations were still ambiguous at this point - it took moving the Island and all the time jumps for her character to definitively develop into a "good" person).
So, if Sun got pregnant on the Island, and the problem begins at conception, why was Sun able to carry to term? Well, because (a) the problem only BEGINS at conception, but necessarily continues only due to Jacob's influence, and (b) Jacob's magic is most powerful on the Island itself (or alternatively, Jacob's power is strongest when he himself is present). Juliet would have discovered that a woman who became pregnant ON the Island would be able to carry to term off the Island because, in order to prevent the woman from giving birth and thus becoming a mother, they need to be either on the Island or near Jacob, where the magic is strongest. So, when you leave the Island, the issues revolving around pregnancy simply cease to be issues anymore, because Jacob does not have the sort of control that he does on the Island itself.
While I know this was hardly made explicit in the show, this series of logical deductions almost conclusively explains why pregnancy was such an issue on the Island, and why some women were able to give birth on the Island despite this issue. I believe all these deductions are consistent with the story we were given and wrap up all loose ends regarding pregnancy.
As far as the washer and dryer - well, folks, that and many other unexplained mysteries were not created by the producers . . . WE created them. Just as Jack, Kate, Hurley, everyone's lives were what they made of it, the show was what WE made of it. This is why the creators kept saying that they would answer all the mysteries that were important to them - because they weren't the ones the fans manufactured out of the crew's own slip-ups.
Thanks for taking the time to read this admittedly long theory. I would appreciate your thoughts.
The Washer, the Dryer, and the Pregnancy Issues - An Explanatory Theory and Reply to BringerofLight by Ryan
This is a long theory but worth the read, I think. . .