The Pearl was DHARMA Initiative station number 5. The purpose of the station ostensibly appeared to be the video surveillance of the inhabitants of the Swan station, but it was later implied that station was actually an elaborate psychological experiment being carried out on the Pearl's own staff.
Its location was about a half day's journey north of the survivors' camp, and several hours south of the Barracks. The station was located entirely underground, well away from any other DHARMA facilities. This was also the location where the drug smugglers' plane crashed on the Island, in the tree canopy above the station.
Little is known of the history of the Pearl station, although it was constructed by the DHARMA Initiative some time between 1971 and 1973. A number of DHARMA personnel were assigned here during the station's early years -- although it is not clear what their mission was or if they were subjects of ongoing psychological experiments during that time. Mike, who welcomed Ben and Roger Linus on the Island, was a technician assigned to the Pearl, according to his DHARMA jumpsuit. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
In later years, after the construction of the Swan, staff stationed at the Pearl were tasked to continually monitor the inhabitants of the Swan, recording their activities in minute detail. The Pearl was also equipped with a computer which would remotely log the Swan Station crew members pushing the button. While believing that they were filing reports on their observations with their superiors, it was implied later that the Pearl staff themselves were the ones being experimented upon.
The Pearl was operated by the DHARMA Initiative until at least the time of the Purge, indicated by Roger Linus telling Ben that they needed to transport some supplies out to the station on the same day. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
Later, in the polar bear cave Locke found a skeleton still shrouded in the remnants of a DHARMA jumpsuit displaying the Pearl's logo. This individual's demise likely occurred some point after the Purge. ("Further Instructions")
The Others clearly were aware of the Pearl station and that it could be used for surveillance. It seems likely that the Others were using the Pearl, in part, to spy on the castaways after their discovery of the Swan. This may explain how Tom knew Locke was carrying a concealed weapon during their encounter at the line. Surveillance from the Pearl may also have assisted the Others in manipulating Michael. ("The 23rd Psalm") ("The Hunting Party") ("Exposé") The Dharma Initiative avoided letting the Others ever know of the Swan's true purpose. ("Namaste") ("He's Our You")
Mikhail's elaborate prepared deception at the Flame suggests the Others were aware the Pearl could be used to monitor other stations on the Island, per Locke's comment: "I guess he'll be expecting us." ("The Cost of Living") ("Enter 77")
Day 24 (Season 3)
Nikki and Paulo first stumbled upon the Pearl entrance while searching for their missing luggage. The Beechcraft was perched at the edge of a cliff, suspended in the trees above the station's entrance - which, at the time, was only partly concealed by a thin layer of fresh dirt. Although Paulo was curious to explore the station, Nikki rejected the idea, and so neither of them entered it. Conversely, Paulo refused Nikki's request for him to climb up to the Beechcraft, as he worried it would fall. ("Exposé")
Day 41 (Season 1)
Following clues in one of Locke's visions, he and Boone came across the Beechcraft - unaware of the station's location nearby. Boone climbed up into the plane, causing it to fall. This accident later led to his death. ("Deus Ex Machina")
Day 49 (Season 3)
Paulo returned to the station on his own looking for a good place to hide the diamonds. While concealing the diamonds in the station's bathroom, he overheard the arrival of two Others: Ben and Juliet. Unaware of Paulo's presence, Ben seemed surprised to find the entrance of the station open, attributing it to Tom's visit a couple of days earlier. Ben asked Juliet to have Tom cover the Pearl's entrance with the now-fallen Beechcraft. The two used the station's monitors briefly to observe activity at the Swan before departing. ("Exposé")
Days 65–67 (Season 2)
The Pearl was discovered by Locke and Mr. Eko who were searching for the location that corresponded to the question mark at the center of the blast door map. During their search, they happened upon the fallen Beechcraft. Inspired by a dream, Eko climbed to the top of the cliff. Looking down, he noticed a cleared circle in the vegetation, which when combined with the plane looked similar to a question mark. The cleared area of ground had been salted to prevent it from being overgrown by the jungle. The Pearl's entrance was hidden beneath the crashed plane.
Locke and Eko journeyed down into the station and watched the Pearl Orientation video. Upon seeing the video dismiss the Swan as a "psychological experiment," Locke lost his faith in pushing the button, although Eko continued to believe it was important. ("?")
A couple days later, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and Michael found the capsule dump at the other end of the Pearl's pneumatic tube. None of the capsules had been collected, despite the Orientation video saying that they would be. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
Day 72 (Season 3)
A small party consisting of Locke, Desmond, Sayid, Nikki, and Paulo returned to the Pearl in an attempt to see if they could learn anything further from the Pearl's computer which might lead them to Jack, Sawyer, and Kate. Paulo discreetly entered the bathroom to retrieve the diamonds he'd earlier hidden. The other survivors discovered that the monitors could be used to observe other DHARMA stations on the Island - and in fiddling with the feeds, Sayid briefly was able to switch one to gain a live picture from the Flame. A man with an eye patch was briefly seen, who looked right at the camera before reaching up and turning it off. ("The Cost of Living")
The exact purpose of the Pearl station is ambiguous. According to the orientation video, the station's purpose was to monitor the inhabitants of the Swan via a video surveillance system - particularly with an eye towards monitoring their psychological state as they continued to perform their duties. The video also appeared to imply that "pushing the button" was of no significance. However, other evidence suggests that the Pearl staff themselves were the ones who were subjects of an experiment, rather than those they were monitoring.
It should be noted that the Pearl was built well before the Swan, so likely had a different mission earlier in its history.
Pearl Orientation video
The Pearl Orientation video was discovered in one of the station's cupboards. The video was hosted by a man who introduced himself as Dr. Mark Wickmund (who was, in fact, Dr. Pierre Chang). According to the film, the staff of the Pearl would work in teams of two, continuously monitoring activities of DHARMA Initiative projects elsewhere on the Island. While not referred to directly, video feeds from the Swan were visible in the background on some of the Pearl station's monitors. Dr. Wickmund noted that the subjects seen on the monitors were unaware that they were under observation or that they were subjects in an experiment. Team members would take an eight hour shift, recording their observations carefully in provided notebooks. Each time a notebook was filled, it was to be placed in a pneumatic tube where it would be immediately transported to their superiors. At the conclusion of their shift, the staff would be transported back to the Barracks via the Pala Ferry. The use of the word "projects" by Dr. Wickmund suggests that other stations on the Island may have been monitored from the Pearl. ("?") ("The Cost of Living")
- At least one camera was hidden within the Pearl station to monitor the watchers. The camera was exposed by the collapse of one of the ceiling's panels allowing Locke to spot it. It is unknown if the camera was still operational in 2004 - or where it might have been monitored from. ("?")
- Later, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and Michael stumbed onto a garbage dump out in the middle of the jungle which appeared to be the terminus of the pneumatic tube. A huge uncollected pile of capsules appeared to suggest that the work being done at the Pearl had little or no value. (Per the eight hour shifts of the Pearl staff, it is unlikely that work continued for long after the Purge.) ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
- The act of pushing the button at the Swan clearly had a specific and tangible purpose, which seems to reinforce the notion that it was the Pearl whose staff members were unknowingly taking part in a psychological experiment. ("?") ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1")
The Pearl station was located entirely underground. A ladder descended from a hatch set into the ground into a short corridor which led into a large octagonal room. While there was a bathroom, there were no living quarters as the Pearl's staff only served in eight hours shifts. The station appeared to have sustained some damage over the years: there were missing panels in the roof, loose wires hanging from the monitors, and signs of neglect.
The entrance to the Pearl was a large hatch set into the ground at the foot of a large cliff in the middle of the jungle. A large area of ground in proximity to the hatch was cleared and salted so as to create the giant symbol of a question mark. The salt kept the symbol from being overgrown by the jungle and it was of sufficient size to make it clearly visible from the air. ("?") In the feature Access: Granted, the Pearl was confirmed to be the question mark displayed on the blast door map.
The station entrance itself was a large two-door octagonal hatch. Below a ladder descended into the station's underground interior.
At the foot of the ladder, a short corridor led into the central location of the Pearl: a large octagonal chamber. One end of the room was taken up by a large bank of monitors with two comfortable chairs set in front of them where the Pearl staff would perform their surveillance activities. Set along one wall was a recessed counter with a computer and associated printer. Several cabinets were built into the walls containing a number of notebooks used by the DHARMA staff to record their observations, plastic capsules for the pneumatic tube, and the DHARMA orientation video for the Pearl. The room also contained a U-matic VCR capable of playing the videos on the monitors.
One end of the room was entirely taken up by a large monitor bank consisting of nine screens. The monitors were configured in a 3x3 array and numbered, columns first.
Each monitor had three circular operational dials aligned in a vertical column. The upper two had similar designs, but the lower dial was different and was about twice the size. To activate the monitors, Locke used the big dial to turn on screens 1 through 3 and the upper small dial to turn on screen 7 (upper right).
Screen 7 received a live video surveillance feed from the kitchen of the Swan station, showing Jack, while all the other screens displayed static. Screen 5 was used to display the Pearl's orientation video, and Ben was able to manipulate it to display the same feed as screen 7. Above the monitors, mounted on the wall, were three speakers which likely transmitted audio from the stations under surveillance. ("?") It should be noted that when John looked up during the Pearl Orientation Video at the live feed of the Swan, the camera angle appeared to have panned, now showing the hallway leading into the bunk area.
It was revealed that the Pearl was designed to monitor several stations at once. Sayid managed to patch a signal in from the Flame. During this transmission, a resident of this station, Mikhail, became aware he was being observed and shut off the camera. ("The Cost of Living")
Two padded comfortable chairs sat before the monitors, each with a table and magnifying viewing lens mounted on an adjustable arm assembly. Several rocker-switches sat on the left arm of the chairs and on the right chair a dial could be used to dim or increase the room lights.
On Paulo's visit to the Pearl to hide the diamonds, one of the tables contained what appeared to be the stubbed-out ashes of a cigarette. These were later seen by Locke and Eko in their discovery of the station. ("?") ("Exposé")
Atop a small counter nearby was the Pearl computer, very similar to the the Swan's computer, but with the addition of a printer, a DHARMA-branded Apple ImageWriter II. (Interestingly, the Pearl's computer bore the logo of the Swan, but this is most likely a production error.)
When Locke discovered the computer, the screen was displaying the prompt, "Print log? Y/N". Upon giving the "Y" command, the computer's dot-matrix printer printed the log printout, a repeating series of numeric codes, interspersed by the word "accepted" (example: 41602064:41 accepted 41602086:29 accepted) These numbers indicated the timestamp of activity occurring on the Swan's Computer when the inhabitants of the Swan station entered the Numbers and pressed "Execute". Later Desmond discovered that the log also captured the "system failure" warnings from the Swan corresponding to the crash of Flight 815. ("?") ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
In one corner, the Pearl contained a functioning pneumatic tube. Upon completing a notebook of observations, the station's personnel were instructed to insert their notebooks into one of the plastic capsules and place the capsule inside the tube. The Pearl orientation video then maintained that the capsule would be transported directly to "us". The terminus of the pneumatic tube, however, was later revealed to be a large garbage dump deep in the jungle where containers of notebooks were simply piling up without anyone checking or collecting them.
Locke took his rough sketch of the blast door map and sent it through the tube where it was later found by Sawyer at the capsule dump. In examining one of the completed log books at the dump, Kate found several references to an "S.R." It is likely this was shorthand for Stuart Radzinsky - indicating the Pearl was to be staffed after Radzinsky took up operation at the Swan. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
Behind one of the broken panels in the ceiling, a camera was visible, apparently filming the Pearl station and its personnel. It can be assumed the Pearl's staff during the time of the DHARMA Initiative was unaware of its existence since its location would have been hidden behind the panel. ("?")
|Picture||Name||First visit||Last visit||Reason for Visit|
|Tom||"Exposé"||"Exposé"||Visited the Pearl to monitor the survivors in the Swan hatch.|
|Nikki||"The Cost of Living"||"The Cost of Living"||The first of the survivors to find the Pearl, Nikki chooses not to explore it until much later, when she goes (along with Paulo) to Locke. Witnesses Mikhail's appearance and Eko's death.|
|Paulo||"The Cost of Living"||"The Cost of Living"||First found the Pearl with Nikki, hid the diamonds in the toilet. Later revisited, retrieved the diamonds, and witnessed Mikhail watching them over the camera. Soon after, he witnessed Eko's death.|
|Ben||"Exposé"||"Exposé"||Visited station with Juliet to monitor Jack.|
|Juliet||"Exposé"||"Exposé"||Visited station with Ben to monitor Jack.|
|Elliott||"Whatever It Takes"||"Whatever It Takes"||(*Non-canon*) Explored the Pearl after finding a capsule near the sonar fence.|
|Locke||"?"||"The Cost of Living"||Found the Hatch with Eko, causing him to have a crisis of faith.|
|Eko||"?"||"?"||Visited with Locke, told to find it by a vision of his brother, Yemi.|
|Desmond||"The Cost of Living"||"The Cost of Living"||Visited station with Locke.|
|Sayid||"The Cost of Living"||"The Cost of Living"||Visited station with Locke.|
- The Sanskrit translation for Pearl is "Falling Star" or "Gem of the Moon"
- "Pearl" is a 14th C. Christian narrative poem translated from the Middle English by J. R. R. Tolkien.
- "The Pearl" is a novella by John Steinbeck, in which a symbol of good becomes a symbol of evil.
- In the opening sequence of the movie Cloverfield, The Pearl station logo appears briefly as a visual "Easter egg". Cloverfield was written by Drew Goddard, a writer on Lost, and produced by J.J. Abrams, one of the creators of Lost. (Outside references to Lost)
- The inverted version of the Pearl logo (With a black pearl) can be seen inside the Season 2 DVD Box Set behind the special features disc.
- The Pearl's computer bears the logo of the Swan, indicating it is probably the same prop.
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Pearl/Theories
- Why was it necessary that location of The Pearl be visible from above?
- Who salted the ground?
- What other stations can be monitored from The Pearl?
- Who was monitoring The Pearl's staff?