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← Season 4 Person of InterestSeason 5 (Flashbacks in parentheses)  
501B.S.O.D.” (Finch) 506A More Perfect Union 511Synecdoche
502SNAFU” (The Machine) 507QSO 512.exe” (Multiple simulations)
503Truth Be Told” (Reese) 508Reassortment 513return 0” (The Machine)
5046,741 509Sotto Voce  
505ShotSeeker 510The Day the World Went Away
Truth Be Told

POI 503 Episode Image.png



Air dateMay 10, 2016

Running time44:01

Production code3J6003

Written byErik Mountain

Directed byStephen Surjik

Viewers7.34M (18-49: 1.1 rating)

ID(s) from IntroID.503/0219.16
Alex Duncan
POI 0503 Alex Duncan.png

Images (22)

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"Truth Be Told" is the third episode of Season 5 and the 93rd produced hour of Person of Interest. It originally aired on May 10, 2016.


Reese’s cover could be blown when he realizes the latest POI has ties to his old colleagues in the CIA.

Origin of the Title

"Truth be told" is an expression one uses before admitting something they have previously hidden.

Main Plot Points

The events in this episode are in Machine point of view and Samaritan point of view.

  • Person of Interest: Alex Duncan is the brother of Paul Duncan, who was one of Reese's targets in Iraq.
  • Alex steals government documents in an attempt to find out how his brother died.
  • But truth be told Reese killed him.
  • The CIA attempts to eliminate Alex Duncan for treason, because his brother Paul was involved in a joint operation between the Pentagon and the CIA to supply arms to our allies. But it was illegal to supply "stingers" as they might fall into enemy hands. ALex Duncan had inadvertently uncovered this covert illegal operation.
  • Terence Beale, John Reese and Kara Stanton's CIA supervisor returns, and discovers that Reese is still alive.
  • When drafting his official report on the incident, Beale leaves Reese out of it.
  • Reese breaks it off with Iris.

John Reese and Kara Stanton interrogating Paul Duncan.


In the flashbacks, we see Reese and Stanton being selected for a mission to find a potential mole in the U.S army, following a hijacked weapons shipment.

They interrogate the suspect, Paul Duncan, and following the interrogation, John shoots him. It is later discovered that Duncan's suitcase contained a false bottom, meaning that Duncan had lied to Reese and Stanton.

Episode Notes

  • The code the Machine sends to Finch translates to Emily Dickinson's 1860 poem "Cocoon Above! Cocoon Below!". In the poem, the butterfly emerging from its cocoon serves as a metaphor for a change of form. One of Dickinson's most frequent themes was that of transformation (which is a change or metamorphosis, as Root suggests.) In this case, the cocoon-to-butterfly change comes after months of waiting.

Cocoon above! Cocoon below!
Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so
What all the world suspect?
An hour, and gay on every tree
Your secret, perched in ecstasy
Defies imprisonment!

An hour in Chrysalis to pass,
Then gay above receding grass
A Butterfly to go!
A moment to interrogate,
Then wiser than a "Surrogate,"
The Universe to know!

Production Notes

Bloopers and Continuity Errors



  • Reese meets Iris and her parents for lunch in a pirate-themed restaurant filmed at Brother Jimmy's BBQ on E 31st & Lexington. The same location was previously used in “RAM” for scenes where Daniel Casey meets Lambert posing as a government agent. It is one block away from the Library.
  • Starting in “Nautilus”, the intro ID pattern was ID.SEE/MMDD.YY, but it now follows a pattern of ID.SEE/????.YY. (What does 0219 mean?)
  • 'Beale' is a reference to Thomas J. Beale; the creator of the Beale Ciphers. The Beale Ciphers are a set of three cipher-texts which are supposed to lead to a hidden treasure. The last two cipher-texts haven't been solved till the present day.


  • "I'm afraid there's still some... unfinished business we need to take care of." (Beale to Reese) "There always is." (Reese to Beale)
  • "Yes. Our only option is to take risks. Big ones..." (Root)
  • "You were always good at doing what needed to be done." (Beale to Reese)