‘Fool Me Once’ Ending Explained & Series Recap: Did Joe Kill Claire?

Based on Harlan Coben’s fictional novel of the same name, Fool Me Once is a Netflix suspense thriller that deals with two puzzling murder cases that are interconnected. The eight-part limited series centers around a widow, Maya Stern, who has witnessed her husband’s murder in front of her eyes. However, confusion arises after the tragic loss when her husband mysteriously appears on her nanny cam. It takes a toll on Maya’s psyche when she finds out that the people she should call her family aren’t actually her well-wishers. Let’s take a dive into the story to find out if Maya’s husband is dead or alive.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Series?

Fool Me Once opened with Joe Burkett’s funeral, where his widow, Maya Stern, grieved her husband’s loss. She was a military pilot who trained rookie pilots after losing her job in the military. Joe Burkett was the eldest son of the Burkett family, who owned a chain of companies under Burkett Global Enterprises. After blissfully living a married life for years, one day, Joe got killed in a robbery at night in a local park. However, Joe’s mother, Judith, didn’t trust that her son was killed by some mere thugs and had her suspicions about Maya. Meanwhile, while Maya grieved her loss, she was also worried about her little daughter, Lily, whose responsibility was completely on her shoulders. One day, Maya’s friend asked her to set up a nanny cam in Lily’s playroom so that Maya could keep an eye on her. Maya thought it was a good idea, so she set up the nanny cam and found something that shook her to the core. She found her dead husband, appearing in the footage, cuddling his daughter. Maya freaked out and talked to Izabella, the nanny who looked after Lily. She asked Izabella to tell her if she had ever seen Joe walking inside following his death, to which Izabella denied seeing anything on the footage and pepper sprayed on Maya’s face. She also took the SD card and took off. Maya was utterly confused, but deep inside her heart, she knew that her husband was dead and that there was no way he could have come back alive.


On the other hand, we saw a detective named Sami Kierce, who was hired by Judith Burkett to look into Joe’s death. Sami was dealing with his own health issues, like repeated blackouts, tremors, and headaches in the meantime. He used to be an alcoholic, but he had been sober for a few years. However, while dealing with his own problems, Sami was also focused on this case. He interrogated Maya, who described the entire scene of the murder case while also mentioning the gun used in the murder because of the similar gun she had previously used in combat. Meanwhile, while doing his digging up, Sami also found out that Maya had lost her sister just before she lost her husband. Her sister Claire, who was investigating a medical scam committed by Burkett’s pharmaceutical company, got killed after unraveling some dark mysteries surrounding the Burkett family.

Why Did Maya Kill Those Civilians?

Meanwhile, Maya was discharged from military service because of some bold choices she made in previous combat. She exploded a car full of assailants and an innocent civilian, whom she believed died as collateral damage, but the media didn’t leave her in peace after knowing that Maya had killed a civilian. The videotape involving the explosion was leaked into the media by a whistleblower named Corey on his website, which made the matter worse. But with the help of Claire, who knew Corey and worked with him on the investigation of Burkett Pharma, she asked him to release the video without the audio tape. The audio tape involved Maya making a decision to fire at the car without a heads-up from her team, which could have destroyed her career for good, but thanks to Claire, Maya suffered only a bit and got pulled from the battlefield.


Who Killed Claire?

Finally, with the help of Corey, the whistleblower, and his and Claire’s investigation, Maya learned that Burkett Pharma was producing medicines that were killing a lot of people, including children, all over the world. Even after all this, the Burketts were getting away with their crimes only because of their power and wealth. However, Claire came to know about it all and managed to gather evidence against the fraudster family, but before she could reveal anything, Joe Burkett killed her and made the crime scene look like a burglary.

Who Killed Joe?

Throughout the series, it was a staggering question of whether Joe was really dead. After his mysterious appearance on the nanny cam footage and Izabella’s questionable behavior, we thought Joe had probably faked his death to frame his wife, Maya, but the truth was even darker than we could imagine. Judith, who had suspicions about Maya, asked Izabella to hack the nanny cam and show Maya that Joe was still alive so that Maya could reveal the truth about her son’s death. But Maya was not an easy player. She investigated and found out that Izabella was tasked by Judith to scare Maya, who had suspected the actual cause of her son’s death. One day, Maya followed Izabella and caught her red-handed. She came to know that Izabella had hacked into the nanny cam and planted a deepfake video of Joe to confuse Maya and make her reveal the truth. But the plan didn’t work.


Maya knew her husband was not a saint, but a man with evil intentions. Joe had a history of murder, starting with his classmate in school and even his younger brother Andrew. But Joe didn’t stop there; he continued killing people like Claire Walker or Tommy Dark, who had found something about their family’s evil side. Maya had her doubts about her husband from the very beginning. When she was abroad in combat, it was Claire who started working for Burkett Global to keep a close eye on their business. But after her tragic death, when Maya came back home, she started having suspicions about her husband’s duality. To find stronger evidence against her husband, she looked into the weapon used in her sister’s murder. She sent Joe’s gun for a ballistic test, and it matched the bullets found inside Claire’s body. With solid proof, Maya finally confronted Joe in that local park and accused him of murdering her sister. Initially, Joe denied all the claims, but soon enough, his real face was revealed. Joe pointed a gun at his wife, with the motive to kill her, unaware of the fact that Maya had already switched their weapons. Failing to kill Maya, Joe was trying to back off, but Maya shot him three times, killing him to avenge her sister’s death.

Meanwhile, investigator Sami ultimately captured the bikers involved in the murder, as described by Maya. But when Sami captured one of them and pressed him to reveal the truth, he told Sami that on that fateful night, they drove into the park to rob the couple, but they witnessed Maya killing her husband. Sami, backed by an eyewitness statement, went to arrest Maya. Maya didn’t back off from confessing her crime, but before she would permanently go to jail, she expressed her desire to expose the entire Burkett family. Sami cooperated with her in that and sent her to the Burketts to get the truth out of their mouths. Meanwhile, with the help of Corey, Sami managed to keep an eye on her through the nanny cam.

What Happened To Maya?

Maya sneakily entered the Burketts’ mansion and placed a nanny cam inside their home. After Judith, her son Neil, and her daughter Caroline walked in, they were startled to see Maya inside. Maya confronted her mother-in-law, holding her at gunpoint, and demanded answers about why she hired Izabella to hack her nanny cam, to which Judith replied that she knew Maya was the one who killed her son. Maya had no guilt about killing Joe because she did it for her sister without thinking about her own life for once. She finally put the gun down on a table and continued revealing the dark deeds committed by Joe and the Burkett family that came as a shock to Judith’s son and daughter. They didn’t have any idea about Joe being a criminal who killed his own younger brother, Andrew. Neither Judith nor Neil wanted to believe what Maya said, so instead, they accused her of killing Joe. Enraged, Maya finally confessed that she had killed her husband in cold blood, and she had no regrets about it. While Judith tried to talk it out with Maya, offering her an agreement to settle the matter between them, Neil picked up the gun and pointed it at Maya. Maya didn’t flinch, as if she knew it was coming. As Neil pulled the trigger and shot Maya to death, Judith thought they might have rid themselves of all their problems, but soon she found out the nanny cam was aimed directly at herself. This nanny cam was not only recording the entire scene but also, with the help of Corey’s whistleblowing website, it was live telecasting. The entire Burkett family was exposed to the public, which was enough to bring down their public image. The authorities finally arrested the Burketts, but tragically, in the process, Maya couldn’t survive. She had been dealing with immense guilt due to her involvement in the deaths of the civilians, which had robbed her of peace. Moreover, murdering Joe was also killing her from within, so she chose to risk her own life in order to expose the crimes committed by the Burketts. Her self-sacrifice devastated Officer Sami as well as Corey.

In the concluding scenes of Fool Me Once, we see that 18 years have passed, and Lily has grown up to be a lady. Officer Sami had become well acquainted with Maya’s family and also got along with Claire’s husband, Eddie. Together, they came to a hospital to see Lily, who had just given birth to her daughter. Lily didn’t become anything like the Burketts, but she was raised by her uncle, Eddie, with the principles of her mother. She missed her mother a lot, so after giving birth to her baby girl, Lily named her Maya to bring her mother’s existence back to their family. Fool Me Once, a limited series, concluded with a happy ending.


Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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