Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series: A Time-Pass Whodunit

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Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series Featured Image

The ‘Fool Me Once’ mini-series is a time-pass whodunit from Britain. This mystery thriller about the murders of family members is set in the fictional town of Winherst in England.

The eight-part 2024 series is the adaptation of Harlan Coben’s 2016 novel of the same name by creator Danny Brocklehurst. It was shot in 2023 in and around Manchester, UK.

Trailer [Official] of the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series

Official Trailer – Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series – Netflix | YouTube

Synopsis [Official] of the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series

When ex-soldier Maya (Michelle Keegan) sees her murdered husband on a secret nanny cam, she uncovers a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the past.

Rating of the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series

FM Rating3.05/5
FM Short CommentsThankfully, we waited a couple of months, before watching it. Major plot holes in the story of this whodunit mystery mini-series did not let us enjoy it completely. The acting was also not top-class by its ensemble cast except for Adeel Akhtar (DS Sami Kierce), whose character was an interesting one. This time-pass crime drama is only meant for die-hard fans of Harlan Coben.
Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series – FM Rating
The series, in contrast to the original novel, adds depth to DS Sami Kierce (Adeel Akhtar) by weaving a compelling backstory around his character.

Spoiler Free Review of the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series

The introduction

Some of our friends persuaded us to take a look at this UK series based on Harlan Coben’s mystery novel, which we have heard so much about. So after much dilly-dallying, we sat down to check it out. After watching this series with its unbelievable story (shared below), we were not impressed, as we found a big hole (spoilers at the end) in its plotline.

The series takes its name from the proverb: "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." This proverb implies that if someone deceives or tricks you once, they bear the blame. However, if you let the same person deceive you again, it is your own responsibility for allowing it to happen a second time.

The story

Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan) is the central character in the series, as she grapples with the tragic loss of her husband, Joe Burkett (Richard Armitage). Joe was brutally attacked and fatally shot by two unidentified individuals. Following the funeral, Maya decides to install a nanny cam to ensure the safety of her 2-year-old daughter, Lily (Thea Taylor-Morgan). However, she is taken aback when she discovers footage of her deceased husband inside their home, engaging in playful interactions with Lily. This unsettling image deeply disturbs Maya, a widowed mother trying to navigate through her grief.

Leading the investigation into Joe’s death, Detective Sergeant Sami Kierce (Adeel Akhtar) finds himself entangled in his web of secrets. Maya’s quest for answers leads to clashes with her formidable mother-in-law, Judith Burkett (Joanna Lumley), while her niece Abby Walker (Danya Griver) and nephew Daniel Walker (Daniel Burt) embark on their mission to uncover the truth about their mother and Maya’s sister, Claire (Natalie Anderson) Walker.

What did we like about it?

Keeping aside our complaint about its flawed plotline, we were impressed with Adeel Akhtar who played Detective Sergeant (DS) Sami Kierce’s character. Even Michelle Keegan (Maya Stern) puts in a lot of effort and energy in keeping us interested in this murder mystery. She manages to hold our attention for the majority of the show. Interestingly, the tough matriarch of Judith Burkett is played by actress Joanna Lumley, whom we have seen a bunch of travel shows and we liked her in those shows. Even the two kids Danya Griver (Abby Walker) and nephew Daniel Burt (Daniel Walker) performed well, but their characters (and sub-plots) were distractions from the main story.

The conclusion

We noticed that many people were asking about the chances of a second season for the Fool Me Once series. Well, we think, its chances are slim, as this show already encompasses the entirety of Harlan Coben’s original novel, which does not have a follow-up. The said novel itself is a standalone piece as of now. But for its tame explanation of Joe’s murder, the rest of the series is worth watching. So, we reiterate that it is a time-pass whodunit show.

Key Details about the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series

GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Original languageEnglish (UK)
SeasonFirst (1st) Season
EpisodesEight (8) Episodes
WritersHarlan Coben (original novel), Charlotte Coben, Daniel Brocklehurst, Tom Farrelly, Nina Metivier, & Yemi Oyefuwa
DirectorsDavid Moore & Nimer Rashed
CastMichelle Keegan (Maya Stern), Adeel Akhtar (Sami Kierce), Richard Armitage (Joe Burkett), Emmett J Scanlan (Shane Tessier), Thea Taylor-Morgan (Lily Burkett), Marcus Garvey (Eddie Walker), Dino Fetscher (Marty McGreggor), Joanna Lumley (Judith Burkett), Danya Griver (Abby Walker), etc.
Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series – About

Poster of the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series

Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series – Poster
Arley Hall & Gardens, located in Northwich, Cheshire, UK, serves as both the Burkett family estate and the iconic residence of Tommy Shelby in the renowned Peaky Blinders (2013) series.

Spoilers Alert – Episode Summary, Key Plotlines & Ending Explained

Summary [official] of the Eight (8) Episodes

First (S1, E1) Episode | 56 minutes

Maya attends the funeral of her murdered husband Joe at his family’s stately home — then thinks she sees him, days later, on a hidden nanny cam.

Second (S1, E2) Episode | 46 minutes

News about the murder weapon sets the investigation on a new course. Maya goes searching for answers and learns something surprising about her sister.

Third (S1, E3) Episode | 41 minutes

Maya chases the car that’s been following her. With the adults distracted, Claire’s children investigate the mystery of their mother’s old photo.

Fourth (S1, E4) Episode | 51 minutes

The detectives question the owner of the motorbike from the crime scene. Kierce’s condition catches up with him at a critical moment.

Fifth (S1, E5) Episode | 54 minutes

Maya sees an unexpected face when she takes Lily to see her grandmother. Kierce struggles to come to terms with his test results.

Sixth (S1, E6) Episode | 52 minutes

Suspicion falls on Maya when she’s found at a crime scene — but she’s the one who makes an accusation. McGreggor discovers something new about Kierce.

Seventh (S1, E7) Episode | 50 minutes

As the police close in on a suspect, Maya decides to take drastic action. Shane begs her for answers — and learns the truth about their shared past.

Eight (S1, E8) Episode | 35 minutes

With the last pieces of the puzzle starting to fall into place, Maya confronts her husband’s family one last time, and Kierce seeks help from Corey.

What is the basic tale (plotline/storyline) of the series?

The plot

In her relentless pursuit for justice, Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan), an ex-military pilot and a single mother, is resolute in her determination to unravel the mysteries surrounding the murders of her husband and sister. With the formidable Burkett family notorious for suppressing dissenting voices, Maya is acutely aware of the limited time she has to uncover the truth. So, what about finding the true identity of the killer(s)? Is it possible that Maya’s army companion, Shane (Emmett J. Scanlan), is the culprit? Or could whistleblower Corey (Laurie Kynaston) be involved? Besides, the presence of a mysterious individual named Rambo (Connor Porter) at the time of Joe’s demise adds another layer of intrigue.

Why and how did Joe (a dead person) end up on the nanny cam (seemed alive)?

The deep fake video

In an attempt to uncover the truth about Joe’s murder, Judith Burkett (Joanna Lumley), Joe’s mother, directed her household staff members, Izabella (Natalia Kostrzewa) and Luka (Frederick Szkoda), to create a deepfake video featuring Joe. By overlaying Joe’s image onto footage from his wedding with Maya, they meticulously crafted the deep-fake video. Judith’s motive behind this was her suspicion that Maya was concealing the reality of Joe’s death. She intended to provoke Maya’s unease, hoping that she would inadvertently reveal the truth.

Who and why (Maya Stern’s sister) Claire was murdered?

Claire was a whistle-blower

Claire (Natalie Anderson), an employee at Burkett Pharmaceuticals, discovered the company’s fraudulent activities: they were manipulating drug trials and distributing harmful medications that caused illness and other severe consequences. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, she sought help from Corey the Whistleblower, who had previously exposed Maya’s war crimes.

Claire’s murder was pre-planned

During her military service days, Maya had taken innocent lives to protect her comrades from enemy soldiers in an overseas mission. Claire successfully convinced Corey not to release the incriminating audio from the incident, and in the process, they uncovered the secrets of the Burketts – including Joe’s previous murders of Theo and Andrew. Joe, who also worked with Claire, became aware of their investigation and proceeded to kill her, disguising it as a robbery. So, Joe was responsible for the death of Claire, the sister of Maya.

Then, who killed (Maya Stern’s husband) Joe?

The revenge

In the final episode, Sami uncovers that Rambo, a thief present in the park during Joe’s death, witnessed Maya shooting him. Maya killed Joe upon learning the truth about Claire’s death. She lured her husband to their park meeting spot, interrogated him, and then fatally shot him with Joe’s gun. Maya falsely accused Rambo and PJ, the soccer coach’s son, of Joe’s murder, claiming it was a mugging. The matching bullets and Rambo’s testimony were crucial in Maya’s arrest.

Also, how and why did Maya Stern die?

Seeking justice

Following Sami’s discovery that Maya is Joe’s killer, Maya discloses her desperate efforts to seek justice against Joe and his family. Sami, who recently learned that his blackouts and brain damage were due to drugs from Burkett Pharmaceuticals, decides to collaborate with Maya, the confessed murderer, to expose Judith Burkett and the rest of the family.

Exposing scandal

Together with Corey, they installed a nanny cam and set up a livestream, with Maya stationed in the Burkett family home. When Judith, Neil, and Caroline walk in, Maya confronts them about their involvement in silencing people regarding the pharma scandal and Joe’s murder of his brother Andrew. Despite Judith’s proposal to cover up Joe’s crime, Maya refuses, leading to Neil fatally shooting her, all captured on the live stream.

Ending explained – what happened at the end?

The end

As the series progresses, a significant time jump of 18 years occurs in the end scene. Sami and Eddie find themselves at the hospital, gathering to see Lily, the daughter of Maya. Lily has matured into an adult and has recently given birth to her child, whom she lovingly names Maya.

How could we overlook one major flaw in its plot?

A wife shoots & kills her husband

Right at the beginning of the series, the wife (not shown her face) Maya takes revenge and shoots her husband Joe dead.

But, then after the nanny-cam incident, for the majority of this murder mystery series (of eight episodes), she desperately searches for her husband Joe’s killer.

The basic assumption that Maya somehow believes that her husband is alive is bizarre and preposterous, to say the least.

In addition, the all-powerful Burkett family (matriarch) do not seem that powerful, as they failed to uncover the truth about the murders, quite a few times in the series.

Poster and Featured Image of the Fool Me Once (2024) Mini-Series courtesy of Netflix.

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