Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

Baby Reindeer, Richard Gadd’s new Netflix series based on his real-life stalking experience, has been a hit — but its ambiguous ending has also left people a bit confused. Here’s what the creator thinks.

A woman walks into a bar; alone, crying, and skint. The barman reluctantly asks her what’s wrong, and when she confesses she can’t even afford a cup of tea, he gives it to her for free.

The start of a joke, or perhaps even a beautiful love story — in Baby Reindeer, it’s the beginning of a nightmare, with Martha (Jessica Gunning) spiraling into an intense, horny, and violent obsession with Donny (Gadd). Her tendrils reach every area of his life; his parents, his stand-up comedy career, and his relationship with Teri (Nava Mau).

By the end of the seven grueling episodes, Martha is removed from Donny’s life — but the show’s final scene is purposely up for debate. Warning — contains content that some may find distressing.

How does Baby Reindeer end?

Baby Reindeer ends with Martha being arrested and sentenced to nine months in prison for stalking Donny and harassing his family. Donny also visits Darrien, years after he was raped, where he’s offered a job. In the final scene, he sits alone in the pub, tearful as he listens to Martha’s voicemail. He orders a drink, but he can’t afford it — so the barman gives it to him on the house.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

Throughout the series, Donny is his own saboteur; he seeks the help of the police, but he doesn’t give them enough information, nor is he fully accurate about all of his encounters with Martha. However, the station’s staff sergeant gives him a bit of off-the-record advice: if any of Martha’s messages are especially threatening, the police would be able to arrest her.

Sure enough, a few months later, Martha claims she’s ready to stab him or his family, so she’s arrested the next day. Donny goes to her sentencing (which includes a five-month restraining order in addition to the custodial sentence) and the pair lock eyes as she’s taken away.


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Later, his ex-girlfriend Keeley visits him in his flat, where he’s turned his bedroom wall into a sprawling assembly of anything he’s received from Martha and everything he knows about her. She tells him she wants him to move back in with her mother, and he agrees. As he gets settled in his old bedroom, he finds a box with his Hangman Harry script in it, which spurs him to visit Darrien, the high-flying comedy writer and producer who groomed and raped him.

Darrien not only calls his breakdown video “brave”, but he asks Donny to come to work with him again and promises it won’t be like last time. He offers him a job, and Donny says he’d “love that”, before leaving and weeping on the street.

Donny listens to Martha’s voicemails as he walks to the pub. He starts with the nicer ones before she explains why she called him “baby reindeer.” In the final scene, he orders a vodka and coke, before realizing he doesn’t have his wallet. The barman tells him it’s okay and gives it to him for free.

Why are Baby Reindeer fans confused about the ending?

Baby Reindeer is a harrowing experience, and while its finale ties up a lot of loose ends, its closing scene is open to interpretation.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

In that moment, as he sat alone and crying without any money, did he see himself in Martha’s shoes for the first time? What if Martha had gone through a similar ordeal in her life, and her fateful obsession with Donny was just a symptom of her overwhelming trauma?

On Netflix’s subreddit, one viewer suggested: “He realized she’s in the same shoe that he’s in now. Someone felt sorry for him as he did to her. Someone showed kindness in the toughest of times as he did for her. He understood her. He’s not much different than her. He feels sorry for her. He’s not going to stalk the bartender. He’s just in shock of his realization.”

This was echoed by another user, who wrote: “It probably dawns on Donny that Martha is a being in circumstances not entirely different from that of his own. The point is hammered in a little more bluntly with the bartender feeling sympathetic and bringing him a drink on the house as he did for her.”

What does Richard Gadd think about Baby Reindeer’s final scene?

Richard Gadd hasn’t offered a clear explanation of Baby Reindeer’s ending, but he believes the final sequence is the best part of the series.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

He told Radio Times: “I quite like the ambiguity of the ending, I sort of don’t want to put a meaning on it. I think it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I know what it is in my head – that ending’s my favorite thing in the whole series, the way it ends.”

“From plugging in the headphones to going all the way to the end, hearing the voicemail, looking up, that’s my whole favorite bit in the whole series. I think it can be interpreted in multiple ways, and I like that it can. I’m quite keen to see what people think, actually.”

Gunning got goosebumps when she read the final scene. “It’s a broken guy, really, like she was in a sense, being offered this act of kindness, and I think he’s just got an insight into what that meant at that moment. That’s just such a clever final beat of everything. I think it’s amazing, and it just translated so well to the screen,” she said.

Why does Martha call Donny “Baby Reindeer”?

Martha’s pet name for Donny comes from a toy she had as a little girl; she doesn’t go into detail about her childhood, but it’s clear she was abused and her “baby reindeer” was her main comfort.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

Donny listens to one last voicemail, and Martha explains: “I had this wee cuddly toy when I was young. Went with me everywhere. Earliest memory I have, I think, was Christmastime. This old photo of me, sitting with this paper hat on my head and this baby reindeer beside me.

“Anyway, this reindeer was this cuddly, fluffy thing. It had big lips, huge eyes, and the cutest wee bum. I still have it to this day. It was the only good thing about my childhood. I’d hug it when they fought. And they fought a lot, you know? Well, you are the spit of that reindeer. The same nose. Same eyes. Same cute wee bum. It means so much to me. You… you mean so much to me.”

What happened between Donny and Darrien?

In Episode 4, Baby Reindeer viewers find out that Darrien was responsible for the sexual assault and rape of Donny years earlier.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

Long before he met Martha, Donny performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. He met Darrien, the lead producer on a successful sketch show, and the pair hit it off. Darrien helps him finesse his routine, they go out for drinks, do lots of drugs, and start mapping out the future of Donny’s career.

Donny spends a lot of time in Darrien’s apartment. They develop his script… but they mostly take an assortment of hard drugs, and every time Donny passes out, Darrien sexually assaults him in some way. During one particularly severe blackout, Darrien rapes him.

Gadd explained: “It was difficult going back to these things. I felt like I needed to get it all out in one go because if I broke from it, I might break from the flow of it.

“I think it shocked a lot of people. A lot of people who worked on the show found it incredibly hard to read and do. I hadn’t admitted some of it to anyone. I think I’d obviously said that I’d been sexually abused and various other awful things that had happened to me before, but I hadn’t gone into that [level of] detail, and it was quite confronting.”

Viewers have questioned why Donny would go back to Darrien’s home after what he did to him, but Gadd told GQ that it’s the “most truthful scene of the show.”

“What abuse does is it creates psychological damage as well as physical damage… Abuse leaves an imprint. Especially abuse like this, where it’s repeated with promises.

“There’s a pattern where a lot of people who have been abused feel like they need their abusers. I don’t think it was a cynical ending, it was showing an element of abuse that hadn’t been seen on television before, which is, unfortunately, the deeply entrenched, negative, psychological effects of attachment you can sometimes have with your abuser.”

Did Teri and Donny end up together?

No, Teri and Donny don’t get back together. In the finale, Donny walks by her flat and sees her with another man.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: What Richard Gadd says

Donny’s relationship with Teri is built on a lie: he uses a fake name because he’s not ready for people to find out he likes trans women. After abandoning her on a train, he confesses — she’s understandably furious and tells him to leave. She shows up at one of his gigs, and after it’s crashed by Martha (hurling abuse at the stage and exposing a lewd email his colleagues had sent from his account), she flee to a nearby pub.

Martha finds them and attacks Teri, bloodily ripping hair from her scalp. Donny lies to Teri again about talking to the police (he did, but he didn’t mention the assault). Their relationship starts to recover, but when Donny desperately tries to entrap Martha, it’s too much for Teri and she cuts ties with him.

Speaking to GQ, Gadd explained that he’d “fallen for someone who was trans but with that came a lot of questioning and all of this unfortunate shame that you have when you’re young.”

“When somebody like Martha came along I saw it as some kind of weird bent to my manhood. You take this guy’s life. he’s just been through sexual violence but he’s trying to be a comedian. He’s indulging this woman who buffers his heteronormativity but he’s dating a trans woman and being very secretive about it. It was taking this character and putting him between these big extremes.”

Baby Reindeer is streaming on Netflix now. In the meantime, find out what other TV shows you should be streaming this month and other true crime documentaries worth watching.

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