The following contains spoilers for Westworld season 3.
Through two and a half seasons, HBO’s Westworld had delighted in leaving little mysteries within the show for viewers to ponder (and obsess over). Questions like “what lies in the center of the maze?” or “who is the Man in Black?” have been major driving forces of the plot. For the end of season 2 and the first half of season 3, Westworld had another grand game afoot for attentive viewers: who are the five “pearls” that Dolores rescued from Westworld to bring back to the real world?
As a reminder, a pearl is basically the spherical software unit for the hosts at Delos’s parks. While the bodies of the hosts are technological marvels, it’s the pearl that drives every robot’s personality. In essence, Dolores left Westworld with the brains of five of her compatriots. In Westworld season 3, episode 3, Dolores confirms to the rewakened Charlotte Hale that she was able to obtain five total pearls. One of these is the pearl of Bernard Lowe, for which Dolores built a new body and sent him on his way. The remaining four have been a mystery, though we know one of them resides in the form of Charlotte Hale.
Well Westworld season 3 episode 4 answers the question of the pearls identity once and for all. Who did Dolores bring back from Westworld? Was it Teddy? Clementine? Peter Abernathy? Felix? The answer, as it turns out, is none of the above. All four remaining pearls are…Dolores! Yes, Westworld’s protagonist and the driving force against Incite and Rehoboam this season has decided that there is ultimately no one she can trust other than herself. To that end, she elected to make four copies of her own consciousness back with her to the real world to serve as her allies.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to be seeing four copies of Evan Rachel Wood walking around any time soon (rad as that would be). Dolores’s mission requires long-term thinking and some subterfuge and putting her own pearls in the copies of some real life figures will be helpful. We’ve already seen this in practice three times this season. One Dolores pearl resides in Charlotte Hale, though something about Hale’s residual personality or flaws within the unit have made it difficult for Hale to operate. It’s now clear why Dolores has been so gentle and patient with Hale as in reality she is trying to help herself.
Another Dolores pearl is in the form of Incite security expert Martin Connells. In having a copy of herself take over Connells’s life, Dolores has ensured that she remains close to the operations at Incite. Bernard even thought they Dolores would replace Liam Dempsey Jr. with a host but in reality Dolores has been able to exert more control over Incite via Connells.
The Dolores pearls aren’t even isolated to North America as her goal to defeat Serac and his omniscient AI Rehoboam is a global concern. As such, Dolores decided to create a copy of Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), a powerful host from Shōgunworld, to take over the day-to-day operations of the Yakuza. It’s this Dolores copy that Maeve comes across in Singapore and who ultimately defeats her (though Maeve will certainly be back in some capacity soon).
That just leaves one Dolores pearl unaccounted for. We don’t know which one Dolores will prefer for her final consciousness to take and that remains the one big mystery for the pearls in Westworld season 3.
The reveal of the identity of the five pearls is in keeping with Westworld’s twisty modus operandi. Not only is this an inversion of expectations, but the ultimate answer makes perfect logical sense. As Dolores/Musashi herself tells Maeve “If you want something done right, do it yourself. I shouldn’t have to explain that to you, Maeve.”. Where logical character motivation and narrative game-playing intersect is Westworld’s sweetspot.