‘Fool Me Once,’ Netflix’s crime show, is about a grieving woman who lost her sister and husband in close succession, embarking on a mission to unravel the truth behind both deaths. A few days after attending her husband, Joe Burkett’s funeral, Maya witnesses a strange vision through a Nanny cam footage that showcases her husband back from the dead in their daughter’s playroom. The event catapults Maya to investigate Joe’s murder, which seems to have an inexplicable connection to Claire, Maya’s recently deceased sister.
However, after following Maya across seven episodes wherein the woman remains hellbent on finding her loved ones’ killer, a surprising revelation alters the entire narrative for the audience. Maya delivered Joe’s death on that fateful night during the couple’s stroll through the park. Consequently, after Maya’s confession to Shane about killing her husband arrives, the question behind her motives remains. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Joe and the Burkett Family’s Disturbing Past
For the most part, the show doesn’t start by giving the audience any reason to doubt Joe’s character. Through snippets of memories, Joe is shown as a loving partner and a caring father. By building his image as a family man, the narrative ensures that his character remains in the audience’s good graces. For the same reason, once Maya begins looking into his past after the Nanny Cam incident, it’s easy to assume her love for the man propels her actions.
Likewise, Maya’s renewed interest in Claire’s death, discovered to be carried out with the same gun used against Joe, partly seems an extension of the same. Thus, with reason to believe someone targeted her sister and husband, Maya uses every resource in her arsenal to get to the truth of the matter.
Eventually, as new information comes into the open, Maya learns of the disturbing truth about the family she married into. The Burketts, who own a Pharmaceutical company under their Burkett Global Enterprise banner, have been tampering with their medical test lab results to push harmful drugs into the market for profit. Corey, a blogger/hacker known for whistleblowing on corrupt institutions and individuals, tracked down several such offenses that the Burketts have managed to bury using their influence and money.
As it would turn out, Claire was helping Corey get more information about the Burketts’ operation by using her position at the company to access sensitive records. Not only that, according to Corey, Claire had an accomplice. Just as Claire approached Corey, albeit for reasons other than the Burketts’ downfall, Joe also reached out to the man. Since Joe wanted to set up an in-person meeting with Corey after Claire’s death and merely a day before his own, Corey believes Joe wanted to snitch on his family.
However, Maya knows Joe would never betray his family. In the end, the same proves to be the truth. The Burketts have had a long history of crimes committed and buried, and Joe turns out to be one of the earliest offenders. In 1996, while Joe was in a boarding school, Franklin Biddle, he killed a boy named Theo Mora with the help of his friend. Although Joe painted the incident to look like an accident in front of his friends, his actions were driven by deep-seated envy.
Furthermore, Joe also killed his own brother, Andrew, to keep his previous homicide a secret since the latter was Theo’s best friend, and couldn’t digest his participation in the boy’s death. Thus, Joe’s inner evil reveals itself as his past comes out in the open. Nonetheless, Theo and Andrew’s murders are news to Maya as well. For the same reason, they’re not the reason behind her killing Joe. Instead, her real reason is connected to Claire’s death.
In the end, Maya reveals the truth behind Joe’s death in the parking lot, where she confesses her crime in confidence to Shane. Even though Maya didn’t know anything about Claire’s involvement in defacing the Burkett Family or Joe’s violent past, she couldn’t help but remain suspicious of her husband after receiving the news of Claire’s death.
In reality, Joe discovered Claire’s involvement with Corey as she passed Burkett Family secrets to the man. Therefore, in order to preserve the family name and keep their crimes under wraps, Joe killed the woman, framing the scene to look like a burglary gone wrong. Allegedly, Claire died in a home invasion at the hands of a burglar.
However, Maya knew as well as anyone that her sister’s house wasn’t exactly the first on a burglar’s radar. Moreover, tiny hints, such as Joe’s avoidance of the topic and his fingerprints on a gun from Maya’s extensive collection, increased the woman’s suspicions. Eventually, she couldn’t pretend everything was fine any longer and decided to confront her husband. After hinting that Maya knows about Joe’s crimes, the woman invites her husband to a park in the dead of the night.
At the park, Maya confronts Joe, hurling accusations at him to see if any of them stick. Deep down, Maya still doesn’t want to believe her husband killed her sister because she doesn’t want to admit that the man she married, the father to her child, is a monster. Yet, Joe doesn’t deny Maya’s words and instead pulls a gun on her. Maya, having already anticipated this outcome, ensured Joe would pick out a deactivated gun and aim her own weapon at him, shooting him dead on the spot.
Maya killed Joe because she knew the man was responsible for her sister Claire’s death. Even though Maya didn’t know why Joe killed Claire, grief and betrayal pushed her to take immediate action and deliver justice to her sister’s killer. Nevertheless, eventually, Maya’s investigation brings all the truth about Joe’s past and his motives into the open, even if posthumously.
Read More: Shows Like Fool Me Once