‘Fool Me Once’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: Did Maya Kill Joe And Claire?


Believe it or not, the Nanny Cam plays the most important role in Netflix’s Fool Me Once series, but we will come to that at the very end. The Harlan Coben series revolves around a grieving wife, Maya Stern, whose husband is shot dead by two robbers in an isolated park at night. However, the conflict arrived when Maya found a suspicious recording on a Nanny Cam that made her believe that her husband was still alive, therefore pushing her to carry out an investigation of her own to get to the bottom of the truth. It was through Maya’s journey that we got to know the dirty secrets of one of the most influential families in fictional Winherst; the Burkett Family. So, let’s look back at the important events and find out the truth revealed during the ending of Fool Me Once.

Spoiler Alert

What had happened to Claire Walker?

Maya, the only witness to Joe’s murder, told DS Sami Kierce that on a fateful night, two masked youths on scramble bikes tried to rob them in the park. The robbers demanded Joe’s watch and wallet, but when he refused to comply, one of them pulled out a gun and fired three shots at him, thereby killing Joe on the spot. Everyone believed that Joe died on that night; however, suspicion began to arouse when Maya saw footage on a Nanny Cam that she had placed in her daughter Lily’s room. In that footage, Maya saw Joe hugging his daughter. When Maya questioned the nanny, Izabella, about the suspicious man in the video, the nanny freaked out and pepper sprayed Maya before running out of the house. It was at this moment that Maya began her investigation to unearth the truth about Joe’s murder, only to find an unsettling truth about her sister Claire Walker’s murder. As per the new revelations, the same gun that killed Claire some four months ago was used to shoot Joe, thereby creating a link between the two murders.

Who killed Claire Walker?

Maya was on duty when she found out through Joe that someone was at Claire’s house and shot her dead while she was alone. According to the police, it was an open-and-shut case and was concluded to be a burglary gone wrong. However, Maya could see the cracks in the narrative, and therefore, as soon as she returned from duty, she started investigating Claire’s murder. The murderer used a Glock 17 gun, which coincidentally was the same handgun that Maya had kept in her secret locker. It was when Maya’s intuition kicked in that she sought help from her army friend, Shane Tessier.

Shane, the friend-zoned guy, used his contacts to test a bullet against the bullet that the police had found in Claire’s murder. And voila. As per the ballistics reports, it was Maya’s gun that had been used to kill Claire, which made Maya certain that it was none other than her vicious husband, Joe Burkett, who stole the gun from her locker to shoot Claire. However, Joe, being the mastermind of such a precise crime, knew that Maya was far away from home and had a concrete alibi. If there had been a serious investigation into the crime, his entire plan could have backfired, as he was the only adult in the house with access to the ammunition. Or maybe the creators wanted an easy way out.

Why did Joe kill Claire?

During her military posting in one of the Middle Eastern countries, Maya impulsively fired a missile on a civilian vehicle to save some British soldiers on the ground. Maya, piloting the helicopter, didn’t wait for communications to confirm the vehicle’s identity and her decision led to the deaths of innocent civilians. The woman never really recovered from the horrible tragedy, but before she could repent for her mistakes, karma hit her hard. A whistleblower named Corey hacked into the military database and leaked Maya’s combat footage (without audio), which destroyed her military career.

Later, Corey, seeking more footage from the incident, decided to leak the audio as well, but Claire stopped him and made a deal with the whistleblower. In return for Maya’s audio footage, Claire decided to steal confidential documents from Lambur Pharma, a pharmaceutical company owned by Burkett Global Enterprises. Corey believed that Lambur Pharma had conducted fake drug trials to hide the truth about their medicines, which led to the deaths of many innocent individuals across the globe. Even DS Kierce, who was on one of their medicines, experienced blackouts, hallucinations, and permanent brain damage, but no one had any evidence to expose the Burketts. But Claire worked at Lambur Pharma and had access to these documents that could change the entire game; however, before she could become a whistleblower, Joe found out. That said, it was not the only reason why he killed her.

While going down the rabbit hole, Claire uncovered a dark family secret that revealed Joe’s true face. In 1996, Joe killed one of his classmates, Theo Mora, out of jealousy. According to Christopher Swain, Joe’s classmate and witness to Mora’s murder, Joe had always been a competitive lad who would go to any lengths to win the game. Evidently, Joe showed signs of narcissism and psychotic behavior, but they were rich, so no one bothered to dig deeper. However, after Mora’s death, Joe’s own brother, Andrew, developed a guilty conscience and wanted to reveal to the world what they had done to Mora. If the truth had come out, Joe’s entire world would have crumbled. Therefore, to protect his future, Joe pushed his own brother from the yacht and killed him. In the present time, Claire found out about Joe’s dark past and started collecting evidence to expose the man before Joe entered Claire’s house and shot her in the head. Joe’s mother, Judith, always knew that her son had killed Maya’s sister, yet she hid the truth, believing that her son had done the right thing for the family.

Why did Joe kill Tommy Dark?

Tommy Dark was the captain of the yacht on which Andrew Burkett was killed. Perhaps Tommy had seen Joe pushing Andrew into the water, which he later revealed to their mother, Judith. However, the mother, who had recently lost one son, didn’t want to part with another and therefore paid Tommy some 9000 pounds every month to keep his mouth shut. In his testimony, Tommy told the police that it was an accident, but Judith probably knew the truth about Joe but was too blind to accept it. She might have believed that Tommy was mistaken or that he was trying to blackmail the family in order to tarnish their public image. Whatever the case might be, Tommy was the only link that connected Joe with Andrew’s murder, which was why Claire approached him to find out the truth. After killing Claire, Joe perhaps believed that Tommy could have a change of heart in the future and might become a grave threat to him, which was why he used his wife’s car to kill the man and later used the same vehicle to transport his dead body to the storage unit.

Why did Maya kill Joe?

Fool Me Once portrayed the Burketts as one of the richest families with an army of lawyers in their pockets. They had the means to get away with the most punishable offense if they wanted to, which was the reason why they felt invincible. Maya Stern, on the other hand, was a disgraced army employee who knew that the Burketts would use her past against her in a court of law if she tried to take a legal course of action for her sister’s murder. It would have only made things messy for her, and she might even have lost Lily’s custody. Remember how Judith, from the very beginning, tried to prove that Maya had been mentally unstable because of her “army thing”? Perhaps Maya believed that she had no other option but to take matters into her own hands, which was why she confronted Joe with the truth and later killed him when his actions confirmed his crimes. Later, Maya fabricated a story to tell the police, and everything was going according to her plan until the Nanny Cam footage popped up.

Why did Maya sacrifice her life?

So, Judith always knew that her son Joe had killed Maya’s sister, Claire, which was why she got suspicious when Joe ended up dead four months later. There were no eyewitnesses at the crime scene, making Maya the prime suspect, and therefore, Judith tasked her trusted employees, Luke and Izabella, to find out the truth. The couple hacked Nanny Cam and put Joe’s deep fake video on the SD card to push Maya off the grid. Now, we don’t know how Judith found out that Maya’s friend had gifted her a Nanny Cam. Perhaps it is a mystery to the creators as well, or they just wanted the Nanny Cam to play a crucial role in the grand plan. Few cinematic liberties that one takes to make arrangements for the stars.

But frankly, the deep fake video shouldn’t have had any effect on Maya in the first place. She had already confirmed Joe’s death before calling the police, so why go to such great lengths to investigate the truth? She could have just let it slip. Meanwhile, DS Kierce had arrested an eyewitness to Maya’s crime who revealed the killer’s identity to the suspended police officer. Kierce quickly drove to Maya’s house to arrest her, only to make an arrangement with her in the end.

Maya fitted yet another Nanny Cam in Judith’s study room and waited in the dark for the criminals to join the party. In the meantime, Kierce walked into the woods and arrived at Corey’s doorstep, as he was one hell of a hacker with a similar motive to expose the Burketts. Through Maya’s friend, the series had previously established the fact that Nanny Cam could be hacked, so Corey used his magic and hacked the camera. He went live with the footage, while on the other end, Judith confessed to her crimes.

On a livestream, Judith accepted that Joe killed Claire because she had stolen documents from the company, which could have exposed their corrupt practices. But Maya knew that verbal confession wasn’t enough to destroy Burkett’s kingdom. She needed some blood and sacrifice. Maya was well-versed in the tactics used in psychological warfare, which was why she removed her gun’s magazine and kept it in front of the stupid son, Neil, who, like his brothers, impulsively picked up the gun and shot Maya to death. Maya planned her death because it was the only viable option to let the public see the true face of the Burkett family. She knew that she would have to spend the rest of her days in prison and wouldn’t be able to stay with Lily anymore. Additionally, the woman was haunted by her past. She had killed an innocent family during her military service and had no means to repent for her actions. Perhaps sacrificing her life was her self-imposed penance and her only atonement.

What happens to Lily?

Fool Me Once ending took place some 18 years after Maya’s death, when we saw DS Kierce visiting Lily in a hospital. Previously, Kierce was diagnosed with some serious brain damage caused by Burkett’s substandard drugs, which pushed Kierce into a vulnerable state. Fortunately, he survived in the end because he “simply” stopped taking those medications. Eddie, on the other hand, adopted Lily after her mother’s death and raised her as one of her own. From the looks of it, Eddie really did a great job. In the end, it was revealed that Maya’s grown-up daughter had given birth to one of her own, whom she wanted to name after her mother. It was the last tribute she wanted to give to her mother. Lily’s uncles present in the hospital room couldn’t hold back their tears as they remembered Maya and what she went through to save millions of people across the globe by exposing the Burkett family and putting an end to their evil regime. Though it was a happy ending for the family, we just hope that someone doesn’t end up giving a Nanny Cam to Lily, thereby setting off a new chain of events.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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