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Fool Me Once TV Review: A Wildly Addictive, Twist-Filled Thrill Ride

Fool Me Once TV Review

Netflix's Latest Harlan Coben Adaptation is Binge-Worthy Perfection

I spent my New Year's weekend utterly engrossed in the bonkers brilliance of Netflix's Fool Me Once, and I have not been able to stop thinking about this addictive thriller since. Based on the novel by master of suspense Harlan Coben, this limited series is an intricate, dizzying spider's web of conspiracies and lies that will have you constantly guessing until its immensely satisfying conclusion. Make some room in your binge schedule, because you won't want to pause once you're snared in its grasp.

The incredibly compelling premise lays the perfect trap from the very first scene. We meet military vet Maya Stern (a phenomenal Michelle Keegan) attending her husband Joe's funeral, still shell-shocked after witnessing his brutal murder weeks earlier. But then she views nanny cam footage that seems to show Joe alive and embracing their young daughter. Is he not actually dead? Is grief causing Maya delusions? Or is something much more nefarious afoot?

A Masterclass in Misdirection and Jaw-Dropping Twists

What follows is a masterclass in sustaining unbearable tension, whiplash-inducing twists, and constantly subverted expectations. Just when you think you've figured out what's really going on, the plot zags in a shocking new direction that obliterates your theories. Coben is an absolute genius at crafting these double/triple/quadruple-fake narratives that leave you flailing for answers until the very end.

Part of what makes "Fool Me Once" so exciting is how it takes seemingly disconnected plot threads about a greedy pharmaceutical company, a long-buried military cover-up, an elite secret society, cyber terrorism, advanced deep fake technology, and much more, and deftly braids them all together into an operatic, yet coherent tapestry of treachery. It's an incredibly ambitious, layered conspiracy tale, but one grounded by Maya's emotional journey and her quest to protect her daughter at all costs.

And just when you worry the twists have gotten too outrageous or convoluted, the final two episodes provide an immensely satisfying payoff of game-changing reveals that blow the lid off everything. I'm still reeling from the final twist that recontextualizes the entire narrative in a jaw-dropping way. Bravo to the writers for their audacious choices and for sticking the landing in spectacular fashion.

Fool Me Once TV Review

A Powerhouse Lead Performance

Holding everything together is Michelle Keegan's tour-de-force turn as the tenacious, traumatized Maya. The "Our Girl" and "Brassic" vet imbues this character with incredible grit and vulnerability as she runs a gauntlet of despair, anger, and dogged determination. The emotional weight of Maya's personal journey anchors the salacious melodrama of uncovering her husband's myriad secrets and lies.

Keegan is utterly magnetic whether she's breaking down in grief, ferociously confronting those deceiving her, or accessing her inner Marine badass to put herself in harm's way for the truth. Maya runs through an incredible gamut, and Keegan makes you feel every bittersweet beat. She's undoubtedly a talent to watch.

A Stellar Supporting Ensemble

Keegan is matched by a terrific supporting cast digging into equally morally complicated characters. Joanna Lumley dives into delicious diva hysterics as the outwardly genteel, but secretly scheming mother-in-law Judith. Adeel Akhtar brings grounded cynicism and dry wit to the brooding DS Sami Kierce, who is investigating the conspiracy alongside his overeager millennial partner McGregor (Dino Fetscher, delightfully annoying).

Young actors Danya Griver and Daniel Burt are also wonderful as Maya's increasingly involved, internet-savvy niece and nephew piecing together their own part in the sprawling mystery surrounding their late mother. Each character has selfish shades and ulterior motives, creating a captivating moral murkiness as everyone scrambles to survive.

Cinematic, Binge-Worthy Thrills

On a production level, "Fool Me Once" is impeccably crafted with cinematic directorial flourishes and a pulsing, tension-ratcheting score by Daniel Pemberton. You can feel the big budget embodied in every lush frame and stylish edit. No expense was spared in bringing Coben's grand vision to life with a sumptuous, almost operatic quality befitting of the tale's wildly escalating stakes and deranged characters.

At eight episodes, the series does lose some momentum in the middle chapters as the plot contorts into increasingly outrageous, soap opera-y directions. However, the utterly bonkers ending more than justifies the detours as you become an addicted participant in the madness. Much like the author's other hit Netflix adaptations, this is bingeable, batshit storytelling that instantly transports you into its heightened reality.

Fool Me Once is a dazzlingly conceived, tremendously executed puzzle-box of a thriller that will keep you frantically watching from start to finish. Keegan is a stunning lead surrounded by terrific costars, and the convoluted mystery zigs and zags with a ferocious intensity. I tore through all eight episodes in a delirious haze barely able to keep up with the tornado of twists, turns, and gasp-worthy reveals.

Do yourself an immense favor and experience the addictive pleasures of being Fool Me Once'd yourself over the next couple of days. It's a wildly entertaining, decadently batshit binge centered around a performance tour-de-force from the magnetic Keegan. This is must-see stuff for thriller junkies looking to lose themselves over the long holiday weekend. Just clear your schedule first, because you won't be able to pry yourself away once Maya Stern pulls you into her electrifying web of lies, deceits, and unbearable tension. Consider yourself warned - and utterly hooked.

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