The Netflix show ‘Fool Me Once,’ adapted from a crime fiction novel by Harlan Coben, is ripe with unexpected twists and turns that define the protagonist, Maya Stern’s private investigation into her husband and sister’s murders. After the woman’s Nanny cam catches an image of her deceased husband, Maya suspects some foul play involved. As such, once confirmation arrives that her husband Joe’s murder is linked to sister Claire’s killer, the woman employs every resource in her arsenal to get to the bottom of the truth.
During Maya’s investigation, the woman suspects Joe’s family, the wealthy and influential Burketts, to be connected to the murders through one of their numerous well-kept secrets: Andrew Burkett. The young Burkett heir, Joe’s brother, died in 1996. Although Judith, his mother, claims to have lost her son in an accident, Maya thinks Andrew died by suicide, as Joe told her before he met his untimely demise. As such, it bears great surprise when Maya’s investigation reveals that Andrew actually died via murder at Joe’s hands. The question remains: why? SPOILERS AHEAD!
Joe’s Deadly Motivations
For most of the show, the narrative paints Joe’s character as a loving partner whose death continues to haunt Maya. From nightmares about the night of his fateful death to seeing his face in every crowd, Maya is deeply affected by her husband’s passing. Likewise, she remains determined as she continues to hunt down answers about his past, hinting at her deep-held concern for the man.
Therefore, with Joe’s personality established as a “good guy,” devoid of any moral ambiguity on account of his death, the revelation that he killed his own brother takes the audience by surprise. After looking into Franklin Biddle, the private school Joe attended alongside Andrew, Maya tracks one of their friends, Christopher Swain, to a covert rehab center.
Christopher Swain was one of Joe and Andrew’s classmates at Franklin Biddle and one of the boys present at the yacht the night that latter Burkett kid died. Apparently, Andrew’s death wasn’t the first death to occur in the midst of this specific group of Franklin Boys. A few months before Andrew’s death, he, Joe, and their friends, including Christopher, pranked one of their fellow football team members, Theo Mora.
After taking Theo to the old ruins to spook the boy with their satanic masks and bonfires, Joe and his friends tied him to a chair and fed him alcohol. However, Joe, ever envious of Theo and his charming presence at the school, took things too far. Tightening Theo’s binds, Joe funneled alcohol into the kid’s mouth until he was choking and convulsing around it.
Consequently, Theo died that night, and Joe convinced his friends to keep his death a secret for their self-preservation. Ultimately, Theo’s death got written off as an alcohol poisoning accident, and since the boy’s family was much poorer than the Burketts and other families, the cops turned a blind eye to the event.
However, Andrew, Theo’s closest friend, couldn’t help the guilt that constantly ran through his body. As a result, on the yacht outing, Andrew tried to urge the others to own up to their crimes in a drunken haze. Thus, Joe realized his brother was a bigger liability than he presumed. Although he calmed Andrew down at the moment, later at night, Joe confronted his brother about the incident. The confrontation unfolded unpleasantly, and Joe pushed his brother off the yacht and to his death.
At the end of the day, Judith, although heartbroken over her son’s murder at his brother’s hand, helped Joe cover up Andrew’s murder by bribing the yacht’s captain, Tommy Dark. As for Joe’s friends, including Christopher Swain, no one dared to bring up the truth about Andrew’s death either in self-preservation or fear of Joe’s reaction. In fact, the incident affected Christopher so much that it likely played a significant role in his developed addiction. Ultimately, Joe killed Andrew in another attempt to protect himself and his family’s name, keeping its bloodied history free of tarnish.