Fool Me Once Ending, Explained: Who Killed Joe?

Fool Me Once,’ Netflix’s crime-mystery show, follows the perplexing resurfacing of Maya Stern’s dead husband. During a late-night walk in the park, Maya watches her husband, Joe Burkett, die during a robbery gone wrong. However, she starts doubting the night’s events after her daughter’s nanny camera showcases footage of Joe, supposedly back from the dead and playing with their daughter. The Burketts, a wealthy family with plenty of secrets to keep, dismiss Maya’s concerns, as does Officer Sami, the lead Detective on Joe’s case, blaming Maya’s paranoia on the trauma caused by Joe and her sister, Claire’s recent and consecutive deaths.

Consequently, Maya, an ex-military soldier, embarks on an investigation of her own, with each new clue compelling her to wonder if her husband’s death had anything to do with Claire’s murder. This captivating storyline, with its mysterious string of murders, easily catches the audience’s attention. Thus, curiosity regarding Joe and Claire’s death plagues the narrative throughout, keeping the audience on their toes until the end. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Fool Me Once Recap

After Joe Burkett dies, leaving his wife, Maya, and their daughter, Lily, behind, Eva, Maya’s friend, worries about the pair’s safety despite Maya’s past in the military. Therefore, she gets her friend a photo frame with a hidden camera so that Maya can keep an eye on her toddler while at work. However, the frame ends up being a catalyst in something much bigger when it captures footage of Joe Burkett in the flesh inside Lilly’s playroom.

Upon witnessing the same, Maya confronts Izabella, Lilly’s nanny, and Joe’s long-term family friend. However, the confrontation ends with Izabella attacking Maya and escaping with the SD Card containing Joe’s footage, which the other woman quickly deletes. As a result, Maya is left with nothing but hysterical claims. Her past in the army, which ended in a discharge after a whistleblower leaked footage of her involvement in civilian deaths, further makes Judith Burkett, Maya’s mother-in-law, insist her reaction is a result of her untreated PTSD.

Meanwhile, Sami gets a lead on Joe’s case after ballistics reports indicate that Joe and Claire, Maya’s sister, who perished in a home robbery, died from the same gun. For the same reason, Eddie, Claire’s husband, becomes a suspect again despite his previously provided alibi. Similarly, Sami and his new partner, Marty McGreggor, remain suspicious of Maya.

Maya, on her part, investigates on her own and learns about Claire possessing a burner phone on which she had arguments with a stranger days before her death. As such, Maya snoops through Claire’s stuff, still preserved by grieving Eddie and his kids. Among the departed woman’s belongings, Maya finds the phone used only to communicate with a telephone at an old arcade place.

Nevertheless, Maya’s snooping doesn’t go unnoticed by Claire’s family, compelling her kids to look into their mother’s boxes, which reveals the existence of a half-brother born from Claire’s relationship with Alexander, an old fling. While the kids investigate the same, Maya realizes Claire met someone at the arcade, who might also be the mysterious stalker Maya has gained over the past few days. Eventually, after a thorough chase, Maya discovers the stalker’s identity: Corey, the same man whose articles ruined Maya’s career.

Maya also learns that Corey was in touch with Claire before the woman died. As it would turn out, after Corey leaked the initial footage of Maya’s attack on civilians, Claire convinced him never to release the audio, knowing it would be worse for her sister, who was already a nationally hated individual. In exchange, Claire agreed to get dirt about the Burkett Enterprise, whom Corey suspected of being involved in unethical pharmaceutical practices.

Furthermore, Corey also believes Claire had help from Joe since the man also reached out to him, expressing interest in a meeting the day before his death. As a result, Maya ends up following Tommy Dark, a mystery man who, according to Corey, the Burketts have been bribing for 26 years. Although the woman finds no leads on Tommy, she learns about a possible connection between him and Andrew Burkett, Joe’s dead brother.

For the same reason, Maya believes Judith has been paying Tommy off to keep Andrew’s death, a suicide covered up as an accident on the former’s yacht, a secret. Meanwhile, Claire’s kids, Abbey and Dan, end up tracking their half-brother to Louise, a boy from Abbey’s football team. Moreover, they learn that Louise was in contact with Claire before she died and hung out with her a few times, including a cryptic trip to a private school.

Once Maya becomes privy to the same information, she realizes the private school is the same one the Burketts have been attending for years, including Joe and Andrew. After some more snooping and bold threats to the headmaster, Maya discovers the mystery death of Theo Maro, Andrew’s best friend. Furthermore, she also learns a name, Christopher Swain, Joe’s school friend, who seems relevant.

Eventually, Maya tracks Christopher down to a high-profile rehab center, where she learns that Joe was directly responsible for Theo’s death after he convinced his friends to take a prank too far. Likewise, he also pushed Andrew off the yacht under the night’s cover when his brother’s guilt filled him with a desire to confess to their crime. In the end, Maya also manages to corner Izabella alone and force answers out of her at gunpoint regarding Joe’s death and his appearance in the Nanny Cam Footage.

Fool Me Once Ending: Is Joe Dead? How Did Joe Die?

Although Joe’s resurfacing on the Nanny Cam jumpstarts the show’s events, Maya insists that her husband really is dead and tries to find an alternate answer for the event. More than anything, she’s suspicious of Izabella’s dodgy behavior, as well as the mounds of secrets that continue to uncover the more that Maya looks into her husband. Furthermore, her determination increases tenfold after learning that she may be able to find answers about her sister’s death by untangling her husband’s mysterious past.

However, the same subtly implicates Maya in a way that is difficult to notice until Izabella’s confession. Maya never wavers in her faith that Joe is dead. Even though Maya was with Joe at the time of his death, she didn’t see his body before his burial. Moreover, Joe’s sister, Caroline, has consistently been feeding Maya ideas about the possibility of Joe being alive, suspecting Judith of pulling sinister strings.
Still, Maya believes someone hacked the Nanny Cam and tempered with the footage to mess with her. Therefore, as she holds Izabella and her partner, Luka, at gunpoint, she demands answers about the same.

Thus, Izabella and Luka reveal they staged the entire thing using a body double and deepfake. The pair were working under Judith’s command, who wanted to throw off Maya since she suspected her daughter-in-law of murdering her son. More surprising yet, Judith wasn’t all wrong.

Shane, Maya’s loyal friend and fellow military man, has been helping Maya with her investigation for a long time. Not only that, but he also helped her when Claire died, leaving her sister restless and desperate for answers. Still, even though she started suspecting her husband, Joe, of being involved in her sister’s death, she didn’t want to believe it. Maya was observant, and her military training had taught her to navigate unpredictable situations.

Joe was the only one to have access to her locked-up arsenal of weapons at home. Moreover, Maya found his fingerprints on her hidden Glock-17 gun, even though he often claimed to dislike firearms. Worse yet, Claire’s death draws natural suspicions since the alleged robber didn’t take any valuables with them, mostly because her house had nothing of value.

Therefore, Maya retrieved a bullet from her secret Glock-17 and asked Shane to run ballistics on it to find if it matched the bullet used by Claire’s assailant. Alas, it was a perfect match. As such, Maya could no longer deny that the man she married and had a child with was not who he seemed to be. Instead, he was the man who murdered her sister.

Ultimately, she confronted Joe about his secret after cryptically inviting him out to a park late at night. There, she threw accusations at him to rile him up in a last-ditch effort to prove his innocence. Yet, Joe only proved his immorality by pulling a gun on his own wife to silence her. Nevertheless, Maya saw this scenario coming. Hence, she swapped out her working Glock-17 for a deactivated one.

In the end, Joe proves his reality by attempting to kill Maya, who realizes that she can’t let her husband walk away since he would easily buy his way out of trouble. Therefore, to get revenge for her sister’s death, Maya killed Joe, staging his death to look like a burglary gone wrong. As she reveals this truth to Shane, Sami’s investigation leads him to the same answers.

Why Did Joe Kill Claire?

Even though Joe’s involvement in Claire’s murder explains Maya’s motives behind killing her own husband, it raises the question of Joe’s motivation. Joe has been a part of many shady things in the past, including two deaths delivered in the span of a few months. At school, Joe was envious of Theo, the new scholarship student, who charmed everyone with his humor, wit, and exceptional football skills. As a result, he convinced his friends to kidnap Theo from his room as a hazing prank, tying him up to a chair and funneling alcohol down his throat.

However, Joe refused to stop even when the alcohol started choking Theo, who was convoluted in his confines. In the end, Theo died of alcohol poisoning, written off as an accident with Joe and his friends’ names entirely in the clear. Similarly, Andrew’s conscience led him to his death, also dealt at Joe’s hands. Claire found out about Joe’s involvement in these two deaths while snooping on the Burkett family for Corey.

Corey is a blogger known as “Corey Whistle,” who unveils harsh truths about people. After learning about Burkett’s involvement in drug tampering, the man started pursuing the wealthy family’s case and found an inside source in Claire. As such, with Claire’s position as a Burkett employee and family member, albeit by marriage, Corey was able to get his hands on sensitive information of all kinds. However, the same put a target on Claire’s back.

Once the Burketts realized what Clarie had done, Judith sent Joe after Maya’s sister. Given Joe’s past, he has gained a mercenary role within the family and has previously solved the Burketts family’s problems with murder as well. Thus, Joe effortlessly lays waste to Claire’s life. He also traces back her investigation and ties up loose ends, like Tommy Dark. In the end, Claire’s death, and subsequently Joe’s murder at Maya’s hands, end up being the consequences of Judith’s plan to keep her company’s illegal activities under wraps.

What Happens To Maya? Does She Die?

Considering the Burketts had Claire killed for her investigation into their paths, a similar future seems inevitable for Maya, who follows in her sister’s footsteps. From looking into Andrew’s death and Tommy Dark’s connection to the Burketts to working with Corey, Claire has been causing trouble for Judith left and right. However, the law comes for Maya before the other woman can.

Even though Sami’s deteriorating health has gotten him suspended, he still arrives at Maya’s doorsteps to arrest the woman once he realizes she killed Joe. Nevertheless, Maya manages to convince him to let her go by revealing the whole truth about the Burketts and their numerous crimes. Corey has managed to dig up enough dirt on the family to know that their company has been falsifying test results to put harmful drugs on the market for a profit.

As a result, Burkett Pharmaceutical drugs have resulted in numerous deaths. As it would turn out, Sami’s health is another victim of the company’s medication. As such, the ex-cop allows Maya to enact her plan, wherein she wants to bring the Burketts’ truth to the world. Thus, in the end, Maya arrives at the Burkett estate to confront Judith and her two remaining children, Caroline and Neil.

During the confrontation, Maya airs out the family’s dirty laundry. Although Judith tries to deny it, she falls for the woman’s trap when she brings up Claire and Joe’s deaths. In an effort to get Maya to confess to Joe’s murder, Judith forgets to discredit the woman’s claims. However, even after her confession, Maya insists that if her secret comes out to the public, it will only unravel the Burkett family’s crimes.

By then, Neil becomes agitated enough to grab Maya’s gun and train it on the woman. As a Burkett, Neil is used to having his way without worrying about consequences. Therefore, in the comfort of his home, he pulls the trigger on his sister-in-law, killing her without remorse to ensure she takes his family’s secrets with her to the grave. Nevertheless, Maya had anticipated the same.

Before confronting Joe’s family, Maya set up the Nanny Cam on the room’s mantle, allowing the room’s view to the camera. Furthermore, Corey and Sami hacked the camera to live stream its footage on the internet. Therefore, the world watches the events unfold as Judith confesses to their crimes, followed by Neil pulling the trigger. Maya strategically placed the gun so that Neil would have close access to it, knowing the egotistical man couldn’t resist using it against her.

However, the same means that Maya always intended to sacrifice her life to bring the Burketts’ ugly truth into the world. In a way, her final sacrifice was a way for her to penance for her actions in the military, wherein she attacked civilians on purpose in an effort to save her squad.

Maya may have imparted some bad onto the world, but she leaves by unearthing the Burkett Pharmaceutical scandal, saving the lives of hundreds who would have fallen victim to their drugs. Years later, Lilly, Maya’s daughter raised by Eddie, names her firstborn after her mother to keep Maya’s legacy alive.

Read More: Fool Me Once: Is the Thriller Show Inspired by a True Story?