The ‘Baby Reindeer’ Ending Is a Full-Circle Moment

baby reindeer
The ‘Baby Reindeer’ Ending Is a Full-Circle MomentED MILLER/NETFLIX - Netflix

Some things you can only learn with experience. On Baby Reindeer, a new drama on Netflix, the main character, Donny Dunn, makes one bad decision after another. Some choices—such as the attention he continuously gives to his stalker throughout the seven-episode series—seem very avoidable. But when barkeep Donny offers a distraught woman a free drink at the pub, kick-starting their twisted relationship, he thinks he’s made a good decision.

The series is based on the true story of British comedian Richard Gadd, who alleged in his West End one-man show that a woman once stalked, harassed, and sexually assaulted him when he was in his twenties. Dunn, portrayed by Gadd himself, is eventually stalked by the bar patron, named Martha on the series. Over the course of the show, she sends him thousands of emails, follows him home, and harasses everyone close to him. Donny, who is a complex character as well, plays into her dangerous fantasies with a complete lack of foresight.

“I didn’t want it to be a victim narrative,” Gadd told Netflix. “I think there was a version of the show where I hid from my own mistakes a bit, and I offered her this cup of tea and I’m a perfect, nice guy. But I made mistakes. And I think art is quite interesting when you don’t know who you are on the side of. You sort of feel sorry for Martha, but then you feel sorry for Donny, and then you feel sorry for her again, then you hate her and you hate him.”

To make matters even worse, Donny forges a toxic relationship with a successful, older TV writer named Darrien (Tom Goodman-Hill). The mentor figure promises to help Donny’s career, but Darrien later sexually assaults him during a drug-induced blackout. Though Gadd views the series as a kind of catharsis, many fans took it upon themselves to play armchair detective and out the people who harmed him. After several false allegations and harassments, Gadd asked fans on social media to stop searching for the real inspirations behind the characters. “People I love, have worked with, and admire…are unfairly getting caught up in speculation,” he wrote to fans in an Instagram story. “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.”

Donny also sees a trans woman named Teri (Nava Mau) throughout Baby Reindeer. His hectic life proves too much for her and the relationship doesn’t work out. The breakup sends Donny down a spiral, which leads to Martha meeting him at a bar and smashing a glass on his head. When Donny hits rock bottom, he publicly confesses everything at a comedy convention. Video of the show goes viral. After Martha sees it, she threatens to tell Donny’s parents. So he comes clean himself and reveals everything to his parents, from Martha’s dangerous stalking to the sexual assaults.

baby reindeer
Everything changes for Donny Dunn after he offers Martha a free drink.ED MILLER/NETFLIX - Netflix

When Martha finds his phone number and leaves a voicemail threatening to stab his parents, the situation reaches a fever pitch. He reports her to the police. Martha is arrested. After pleading guilty, she spends nine months in prison. Donny is granted a five-year restraining order—and he allegedly never sees her again.

In the final scene, Donny listens to Martha’s voicemails and learns why she calls him Baby Reindeer throughout the series. He reminded her of a stuffed reindeer that she had during her childhood. Donny cries at the bar, realizing that he also forgot his wallet. Mirroring the catalyzing incident of Baby Reindeer, the bartender gives him a free drink.

Though the finale dropped on April 11, the show’s popularity continues to grow. It debuted to 2 million viewers on the streamer, Deadline reports, before a word-of-mouth campaign helped viewership skyrocket to 22 million in its third week. “It was difficult going back to these things,” Gadd told Netflix. “I felt like I needed to get it all out in one go.”

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