It took me by surprise when it was mentioned in comments that the Fountain is a place where only The Truth ™ is spoken. Yes, I slapped my forehead and said, “Of course.” Our friend Liz James pointed out that this is a well known literary device. It is. And the fact that I was never an English major has nothing to do with the fact that I didn’t know that sooner!
We thought it would be great to go through the fountain scenes to uncover these truths. Of course, that turned out to be a bigger task than I thought, especially when I realized that there are some very important speeches made far from the fountain. Some of these scenes tell us things that are very obvious to us, although some have acquired their meaning over time. All of them were snippets that carried significant meaning for me. Some just made me smile as I saw them again.
Here in part 1, I’d like to list the places that I found the truth being told to us, plain as day for us to see in season 1. You may remember other places too, and if so, please chime in!
In the Beginning
We can go fairly quickly through the early episodes, where characters are introduced. As early as The Pilot where we get our introductions, the fountain is the location from where we learn of Chuck’s story and see things that are now obvious to us. At the fountain, we learn Chuck works at the Buy More as a Nerd herder, went to Stanford, he’s working on a five-year plan, and Bryce Larkin was his roommate. Someone named Jill is important to him. There is, at the end, a true fountain scene with Chuck and Ellie, where she tells him that he must move on. These are the first truths we learn about Chuck Bartowski.
In Helicopter there is no true fountain scene, but we do learn from Sarah something important about the direction Chuck’s life has taken. “Some people want to be heroes and some have to be asked. So, Chuck? Are you ready?” Yes, he is.
Chuck gets his first taste of what being a spy is like from the inside. He learns right away what the downside is to this glamorous new world. Not many people can know about it. That’s a truth he hadn’t considered before.
Sarah: Congratulations on your first mission. You did really good, Chuck.
Chuck: Stop it. I’m not really a spy. Your computer ended up in the head of a guy who only knows how to fix them. Nothing else.
Sarah: You survived a near-death experience under the threat of torture, and apprehended one of the world’s most elusive killers. I’m not sure what you think most spies do, exactly. But most of us consider that a pretty good day.
Chuck: Okay. Sure. So today, I helped take down a major international arms dealer. But tomorrow? Tomorrow, I still gotta go clock in at Buy More. I mean, what’s the good of being a hero if nobody knows about it?
Sarah: You know. And so do I.
Chuck: If we were really dating, this’d be the part where I’d be forced to kiss you good night.
Sarah: Forced? Would it be so bad?
Chuck: I’m sure I could suffer through it.
Sarah: Me too.
From the very start, we hope that will be enough for Chuck. For now, he’s right. He’s not a spy.
The truth is always told at the fountain, but sometimes the truth is about a lie. Chuck and Sarah must tackle the details of being a fake couple. All of them!
Chuck: Yeah, well, speaking of details, there were a couple of those questions we could’ve done better with.
Sarah: Which ones?
Chuck: You know, those questions. THE questions.
Sarah: The sex questions?
Chuck: There you go!
Sarah: Morgan did well with those too!
Chuck: Well, what exactly is our cover for that topic?
Sarah: Uh, we’re taking it slow.
Chuck: Right, yeah. We’re being prudent, aren’t we?
That works. It’s frustrating, but it works.
You never know who might be compelled to speak Truth ™ at the fountain. Sometimes it’s a third party.
Carina: I don’t get it, Chuck. I thougt you and Sarah were on the outs.
Chuck: I made a mistake. I’m still getting used to how you guys need to lie about who you are.
Carina: I’m feeling like a knife fight. You analysts don’t know what it’s like for us field agents. It’s our job. We shed identities like people shed clothes.
Chuck: In your case, that’s quite often.
Carina: We try them on, like them or leave them. After a while, it doesn’t even matter.
Chuck: So you don’t let anyone know who you really are?
Carina: Can’t. Might have to leave them in five minutes, or shoot them in the head. Trust me. A spy doesn’t want you to know anything about them that’s real, no matter who you are.
Chuck has just found out why Sarah has been such a mystery to him, and why the truth seems to be such a slippery concept when she’s involved. He’ll hear that one again.
Sometimes Chuck’s not even involved when Sarah is being mysterious. If someone is going to tell the truth, maybe Chuck isn’t the one meant to hear it.
Sarah: As much as I hate your methods, there’s never a dull moment, right?
Carina: Well, If you want a dull moment, just check out your cover life!
Sarah: Well, you know, we have our adventures.
The Truth can come at Chuck from point blank range, or rather like an on rushing train, especially when Carina’s around.
Carina: Sure you don’t wanna come back to my hotel room?
Chuck: Um… as flattered and intimidated as I am by your proposition, why me?
Carina: Well, you’re sort of cute-ish. But, um, the real reason is I love taking what Sarah wants.
Chuck: Wa.. me? No, Sarah — Sarah doesn’t want me.
Carina: Yeah, she probably doesn’t even know it herself yet. But, um, I do.
I’m sure that gave Chuck pause.
The Sand Worm
The fountain is not the only location where a sign is tacked up saying “Only The Truth is spoken here.” One of those signs is in Chuck’s bedroom. When Chuck walks in Sarah is waiting for him. Chuck knows the right background music – Arcade Fire’s first album. Sarah shows him something that sure looks like it’s the truth.
Chuck: Why were you waiting for me in my room, anyway?
Sarah: Well, I wanted to surprise you. Um… (shows him the picture) Uh, it’s us at Comic-Con. What do you think?
Chuck: It’s — it’s great. Uh… But we’ve never actually been to Comic-Con, have we? Wow. We actually look like a real couple.
Sarah: Well, we are a real couple. We’re just a different sort of a couple.
Chuck: That, we are.
Well, the picture of Chuck and Sarah at Comic-Con may be a lie, but they are a real couple.
Later, in Chuck’s room, Chuck has to face the fact that Intersect or no, his judgement is not infallible, and the consequences are quite serious.
Sarah: Hey! You look nice.
Chuck: Thanks. I feel like crap. I screwed up. I severely pooched the Laszlo situation last night.
Sarah: Yeah, well, today you have a job interview. (Sarah straightens Chuck’s tie).
Chuck: Do you think I care about making lower management at a Buy More? Are you kidding me? I aided and abetted the escape of the next Ted Kaczynski, Sarah. I just… I can’t believe that I was so wrong about that guy. No wonder you bugged my room. I’m an absolute idiot.
Sarah: You know, just because you trust people… that doesn’t make you an idiot.
Chuck: Yeah, well, I should have trusted you guys a little more. I’m sorry.
That, of course, is what Sarah’s been telling him from the start.
Later, at the fountain, even when a direct lie is being told, it still has a way of being the truth. From the mouth of a con-artist:
Ellie: Chuck – how did it go?
Chuck: The short version is that I kinda skipped out on the interview.
Sarah: It’s – my fault. I, uh – I had a personal emergency, and Chuck really came through. He probably wouldn’t admit it, but your brother is kind of a hero.
And that’s the truth.
The Alma Mater
Chuck was not aware of everything that happened at Stanford, especially the part that concerned him. In his bedroom, Sarah allows him to see it, as recorded on Professor Fleming’s data disk.
Sarah: You didn’t think they’d let you keep that, did you?
Chuck: I need to know, Sarah.
Sarah: Okay, Chuck.
Professor Fleming’s record: Test subject 0326, Bartowski. This will be his first interview. Send Chuck in.
Bryce? This isn’t a good time. I’m waiting for another student.
Bryce: Chuck Bartowski? He never got your message.
Fleming: What are you talking about?
Bryce: You put Chuck on the CIA recruitment track?
Fleming: It’s not up to me, Bryce. They want him for the Omaha Project.
Bryce: That’s a military operation. They’ll turn Chuck into –
Fleming: I’m required to send all the top test results to the Agency.
Bryce: I want my friend out of this.
Fleming: He’s a perfect candidate. Keywords in his essay responses correlate to 98 percent of the subliminal messages in the exam.
Bryce: You don’t get it. Chuck’s a good person. He’s got too much heart for this kind of work. He’s no operative. You CAN’T put him out in the field. He won’t survive.
Fleming: The Agency is not gonna let go of a recruit this promising. The amount of information he can retain…?
Bryce: They’re not gonna give him a choice?
Fleming: He’s in no matter what.
Bryce: If he cheated on the exam, copied all the answers, it would invalidate all the results, wouldn’t it?
Bryce: Good. Now you’re going to help me, professor.
Chuck: Bryce framed me, for cheating, to save me. Why didn’t he just tell me that to begin with?
Sarah: He couldn’t. They had already recruited him.
Chuck: If he had a good reason for getting me kicked out, maybe he had a good reason to break into the Intersect too.
Sarah: And maybe he had a good reason for sending it to you.
Chuck: I just wish I could talk to him. It must have tore him up to not be able to tell me.
Sarah: No one can know about this. For your own safety. Okay?
Chuck: Sure. No one would believe me anyway.
Sarah leaves, closes the door, looks at the data disk and cries.
Don’t look back in anger, Chuck. This kind of Truth is hard to take, because it undoes everything you thought you knew.
Not all Truth comes out because of a vial of pentathol. There’s a cover for Chuck and Sarah to maintain, and it’s a very tiny cover at that. Chuck’s come prepared with candlelight and music, but it goes awry when he has difficulty maintaining his composure, and our couple has a fight.
Sarah: Oh? Well that’s real nice. What is the matter with you tonight, anyway?
Chuck and Sarah turn away from each other in anger.
Ellie and Devon argue in the other room.
Chuck: We’re starting to sound like them, aren’t we?
Sarah: A little. Are you okay? Is there anything you want to talk about?
Chuck: What exactly are the rules with our – Like, you know, our thing?
Sarah: What do you mean?
Chuck: What I mean… hypothetically speaking, are we allowed to see other people?
Sarah, using her Agent Walker voice: Well, uh, our cover is boyfriend-girlfriend, so tactically that would be challenging. Plus, any prospective date would have to endure a rigorous vetting process to determine her motivation.
Chuck: Wouldn’t her motivation be love?
Sarah: Ideally. But you’re a very important piece of intelligence. And you have to be handled with extreme care.
Chuck (sarcastically): Well, that sounds very nice.
Sarah: Chuck, I don’t have to be a spy to piece together the clues here. You’re interested in that Lou girl, aren’t you?
Chuck: Well.. I…
The truth is that Chuck believes Sarah when she tells him it’s just a cover, and he finds that hard to take. By the end of the episode, Sarah is on the outside, looking in.
The Imported Hard Salami
Did you realize that The Truth sometimes comes out at the Buy More?
Sarah walks up to Chuck in the Buy More, who’s trying to call Lou.
Sarah: Won’t call you back?
Chuck: Yeah – I think her voice mail is broken? It’s very, very common…
Sarah: I wanted to apologize for last night. I suppose I jumped the gun a little and I didn’t mean to interfere with your date.
Chuck: Yeah – I’m not sure it qualifies as a date when you’re bugged with CIA microphones and infiltrating an arms importer, but, hey, I’m new at this.
Sarah: Well, it’s hard to have a real relationship in this line of work.
Chuck: Apparently it’s hard to have a fake one as well.
Sarah: Well, if it’s any consolation, I never felt like our time together was work.
It’s nice of Sarah to say so. There is one thing that’s important when Chuck and Sarah speak honestly to each other, one thing only. Their relationship. And it doesn’t matter if they’re speaking of the cover or the real one.
Chuck often learns about his relationship with Sarah because of his relationship to someone else.
Chuck: I know that you are so sick of hearing this. But I’m really sorry. I’ve acted like a jerk.
Lou: Can I ask you a question? This whole time, did you ever really like me?
Lou: Yeah. Let’s try that for the first time since we met. Ha.
Chuck: Lou, you are everything that I’m looking for. I just can’t look right now.
Lou: Well, thank you for being honest.
Does it make it easier for you when you stand in Sarah’s shoes, Chuck? I hope so.
Veritas (Inter)rupus. The truth sometimes doesn’t come out, even though it seems like it’s about to. This is the case even at the fountain. Is it true that Sarah’s leaving in the morning with Bryce?
Chuck: So are you and Casey gonna go after Bryce?
Sarah: No. Bryce is probably halfway around the world by now. It’s, uh, someone else’s job to find him.
Chuck: Sarah, this is Bryce Larkin we’re talking about here. Your old flame. My old nemesis. We have to do something.
Sarah: We each have our own assignment.
Chuck: Right. and I’m yours. So, what – what does this mean for us?
Sarah: Nothing. You’re protected.
Chuck: No. For us, our fake relationship. I mean, you and Bryce were… You’re really not making this easy.
Hey! Hey, sis.
Ellie: Hey! Hey, Sarah. It’s good to see you.
Sarah: You too!
Ellie: Are you coming to Thanksgiving?
Sarah: Of course!
Oh, so close. Now we have to wait to find out if she stays, or if she goes. I start to wonder, though, why Sarah refused to hear the question the first time. Chuck had to tell her what he was asking about. “No. For us, our fake relationship.”
And so will Bryce. In the car, Bryce and Sarah have this conversation.
Bryce: Are we good?
Sarah (looking back): Yeah, we’re clear.
Bryce: No, us.
Sarah: I have my assignment, Bryce.
Bryce: You were never good at this – the saying-your-feelings part.
Sarah: Well, I don’t like to talk much.
We sort of knew that, Sarah. We also now know that you hear what you want to hear, at least a little.
Sometimes The Truth ™ comes from very unexpected places.
Morgan: She’s a liar. Not to be trusted.
Chuck: What’s that?
Morgan: Women! They’re so elusive. So unknowable, okay? They wrap you in this wool sweater of lies, and it keeps you warm but it makes your neck all itchy.
Chuck: Who – who are we talking about exactly?
Morgan: Anna. By the way, never trust a woman who’s name is a palindrome. Okay?
Speaking as a guy, I think every guy should know that about palindromes.
One obvious truth is that Chuck has a little bit of a jealous streak. It goes along with being insecure. In this case, Chuck is feeling insecure being next to a rather wealthy and corrupt yachtsman, who happens to be Sarah’s mark, Lon Kirk.
Chuck: So, uh, what did you and Kirk talk about?
Sarah: Uh, he invited me to his yacht tomorrow afternoon.
Chuck: Okay. What time should I be ready?
Sarah: No, just me.
Chuck: Oh, just you, alone on his yacht. Kind of disrespectful to your boyfriend.
Sarah: Chuck, Bryce is not my boyfriend, and even if he was, he’d understand this kind of work.
Chuck: I meant Carmichael, actually. But don’t worry. Carmichael’s booked up tomorrow, anyway. Very, very busy schedule, so good luck and good night.
Sarah just told us a truth. She thought Chuck was jealous over Bryce. The truth is she’s torn between Chuck and Bryce, not some mark.
Sarah sometimes needs to hear the truth herself. There’s nobody braver about confronting her with it than Chuck. It’s possible that Chuck make a mistake. It’s also possible that Chuck made a scene when he saw something – disturbing. Is it possible that Sarah is just a little self-conscious when she has to seduce a mark? You betcha.
Sarah: Ellie or Awesome home?
Chuck: No. They’re at work, and hello to you too.
Sarah (angry): What the hell happened today?
Chuck: I don’t know. I don’t get it. I had a flash.
Sarah: Right when I went below deck with Kirk. It’s pretty convenient timing, I would say.
Chuck: What are you talking about?
Sarah: Just when you thought I was getting intimate with Kirk, you decided to have a flash.
Chuck: What exactly are you implying? That I faked a flash? That I’m a flash faker?
Sarah: I think we need to discuss the fact that you let your emotions get in the way today.
Chuck: My emotions?
Sarah: Things have been a little off since the incident, Chuck.
Chuck: Really? And what incident are you referring to, Agent Walker? Huh? Could it be the incident when you planted a kiss on me, right before a bomb was supposed to go off, ending our lives? That same kiss right before your boyfriend Bryce came back from the dead? That kiss??
Sarah: Stop saying kiss! It happened, okay? What’s done is done. Can we just not talk about it, please?
Chuck: Okay, fine. Absolutely, of course. Just answer me one little thing.
Sarah: Chuck –
Chuck (angry): Did you kiss me that night because you thought we were going to die, and mine were the most convenient lips around? Or was it actually about me?
Sarah: What happened was a mistake. – One I will not make again.
Ouch. The look on Chuck’s face tells you that wasn’t easy – either to give or to take, and the consequences of such honesty can be severe. Chuck’s hurt, but Sarah might as well have been hit by a two-by. As it is, she’s truly affected. After Casey and Sarah are benched because Chuck’s flash didn’t pan out:
Casey: Bang up job, Walker. I’m going to give you one chance to come clean. Did you or did you not compromise yourself in the intersect?
Sarah: Do you ever just wanna have a normal life? Have a family? Children?
Casey: The choice we made to protect something bigger than ourselves IS the right choice. Hard as that is for you to remember sometimes.
Sarah: I’ll talk to Chuck. If I can’t fix this, I’m going to ask for a reassignment.
That comes from left field. For the first time (but not the last), Sarah is reconsidering her calling and knows her emotions have gotten in the way. The only question now, is she willing to do the hard work necessary to NOT let them get the better of her. Christmas parties are a good time for the truth.
Chuck: Hi. I’m glad you came. I got you something. Ta-da! New alarm clock. Merry Christmas.
Sarah: You shouldn’t have.
Chuck: Ah, come on. They’re on sale in home electronics. Which reminds me, I should probably scan that thing before you leave the store with it…
Look, it’s also kind of a thank you, for believing me, when you had good reason not to.
Sarah: Well, it’s my job, you know. It’s what I do. It’s the one thing I’m good at.
Chuck: Really? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you’re good at a lot of things.
Sarah: Well, as you can see from everything that happened with Bryce, I’m – not so good at relationships.
Chuck: I guess that makes two of us. And then that makes me good at pretty much nothing, I suppose.
Sarah: Chuck, you’re good at your job too, and not just here, fixing computers. You know – the one where you risk your life to save others, the one you didn’t ask for, but were supposed to have.
Sarah: Yeah. Friends.
She’s going to try. It’s a good thing for us that Chuck was not the only person she was encouraging to stick it out for the right reasons.
The Undercover Lover
En Vino, Veritas. Casey’s apartment is a good place for Truth ™ too! While Neil Diamond’s Love on the Rocks plays, Chuck gets an earful about Casey’s idea of the American dream. He also learns more about his large friend.
Chuck: Ah – a little scotch, and a little Neil. Everything okay, buddy?
Casey: Just enjoying myself a little R&R. Heh, heh!
Casey: Wanna drink?
Chuck: No- no. Thanks, though. I really appreciate it. No, uh, just thought I’d check in on you, you know, what with Ilsa getting married in an hour and…
Casey: Thanks for reminding me. (Chuckles) Here’s to John Casey, dodging another bullet! (looks at Chuck). It’s not like I want the wife and kids, and the little league practice and the minivan and the Costco runs.
Chuck: Ha-ha. Yeah. Really? You don’t? Cause I – it seems to me that you’d kind of be into the whole American dream.
Casey: Nah. I do what I do so all those other slobs out there can have it.
Chuck: What – ah – what would you say your dream is?
Casey: You’re looking at it. (Casey takes a bite of his Hot Pocket).
That’s Johnny. He really knows his place in the world.
Ellie, however, is not quite so poetic when she’s tipsy. She does succeed in getting her point across, though. She’s a bit confused about her inability to communicate with Devon about their gift to each other.
Ellie: Sarah! Hi. I’m so glad you’re here!
Sarah: Yeah -me too.
Ellie: I’m having a little wine. You want some?
Sarah: I’m actually fine, but you go ahead.
Ellie: Okay. Ellie drinks more wine.
Sarah: Um, is Chuck here?
Ellie: Uh-uh. No, it’s um, just me tonight. Um, home, all by myself. Ha!
Sarah: Oh – um. Are – you okay?
Ellie: Mm-hm. (sobs)
Sarah: Ellie, are you sure you’re okay?
Ellie: It’s just that I have both feet in and Devon has one foot in, so then it’s just me taking care of three feet. And I want it to be us, taking care of four feet. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Ellie: Of course you do. Of course you do.
And so do we.
There are an incredible number of great scenes in Marlin where Chuck has to face the truth, and Casey and Sarah have to figure out how to present it to him so he doesn’t freak out. The Truth ™ is about The Big Picture.
Chuck: I’m gonna stick around here and try to find my sister’s ring.
Sarah: Hey, Chuck? No ring came up in our inventory.
Chuck: What do you mean – No ring came up in your inventory? You guys robbed the Buy More, didn’t you? What happened to Awesome’s great-grandmother’s ring?
Sarah: We kinda have some bigger-picture concerns right now.
Chuck: What could possibly be bigger than me ruining the chances of my sister getting married?
Sarah: The receiver may contain information indicating that you’re the Intersect.
Chuck: Say it. Say what you’re not saying.
Sarah: If we don’t locate the receiver in the next 24 hours…
Casey: You’ll be stored in a bunker for so long you’ll forget what fresh air smells like.
See? That was very gentle.
It’s so very important every time someone says what they’re not saying. But that’s just a lead-in to the rooftop heliport, where only the biggest of truths gets spoken.
Sarah: Long Shore!
Conway: Is there a problem, Agent Walker?
Chuck: Sarah,Thank God you’re here. Listen. I don’t wanna go yet. I ca..
Sarah: Agent Casey is tracking the Fulcrum mole, and he should have her in custody soon. So we can hold off on the Chuck transfer, for the time being.
Conway: If there was a change in the operation, I would have been contacted. I have my orders.
Sarah: We don’t have to. This is a judgement call. Okay? We can hold Chuck here until we know for sure.
Conway: His cover was blown. He’s gone.
Sarah: No – I – I will take full responsibility. Chuck is my asset. He’s my guy. Just – just give us more time, please.
Chuck: I’d appreciate it. I really would.
Sarah: Please don’t do this.
Sarah slowly reaches for her gun.
Conway: Okay. You got one minute. One minute!
Chuck: I’m not ready Sarah. I’m not ready to disappear.
Sarah: No, I know.
Chuck: I need you to talk to Ellie. And to Morgan, and my friends. And – and -and tell them… I don’t know. Look, if I’m supposed to be dead, just say something that will make it okay, that will make them feel all right. Just make sure they know how much I love them. You can do that, right?
Of course you can. You’re Sarah. You can do anything.
And hey, there’s a silver lining to this too, you know? Because we’re not working together anymore, which means we can go on a date. You can come by my cell and we can hang out. And you can tell me who the president is. And maybe, uh, maybe we can see how we really feel.
Conway: Time’s up.
Chuck: Goodbye, Sarah.
Sarah: Chuck? I’ll save you later.
He’s her guy? Oh yes. We all heard the truth – The words ring out. Sarah could hardly keep it hidden.
Yet, there’s one last place where Sarah tells the truth for all of us, and for Chuck to hear, in the final confrontation with the Pita Girl.
Pita Girl: I don’t think you’re in a position to bargin, Chuck. I have two guns. What do you have?
Truer words never spoken.