Интернет-магазин DONTA

Baby Reindeer ending explained: “I think art is quite interesting when you don’t know who you are on the side of”

Baby Reindeer ending explained: “I think art is quite interesting when you don't know who you are on the side of”

The twisted, psychologically complex finale explained. Spoilers ahead!

If you're anything like us, you have spent the past week mulling over that Baby Reindeer ending. The gripping dark comedy from Richard Gadd has, quite literally, been the the talk of the town since it all dropped on Netflix last week thanks to its bold script and refreshingly nuanced take on the mental health issues associated with stalking.

The show follows fictionalised version of Gadd, Donny, an up-and-coming comedian who happens to meet Martha, a lonely woman at a bar. Soon, their flirty relationship takes a turn as Martha begins stalking Donny, sending him thousands of emails, texts and voicemails and turning up practically everywhere he goes.

Like us, you probably raced through all seven episodes of the show as soon as they landed on Netflix — and, like us, you were probably left with more questions than answers. The enthralling series finale surprised many viewers with its ambiguous ending. What does it all mean? Why does Donny burst into tears in the final scene? And why does Martha call him “baby reindeer”? Let's dig into the exceptional episode to find out.

Needless to say, be warned that there are plenty of Baby Reindeer spoilers ahead.

What happens in the Baby Reindeer finale?

At the beginning of the fascinating final episode, we catch up with Donny at a high point in his life. His career is going well after one of his stand-up videos goes viral. However, he comes crashing down from this high when Martha starts contacting him again — finding his phone number on his out of office email, she begins calling him, threatening to tell his parents about the video, which includes a reference to how he was raped.

Donny decides to return home to open up to his parents about what has been going on in his life. He tells them about Martha and about the sexual assault, saying, “I didn't want you to think less of me as a man.” His parents are understanding — his father replies, “Would you see me as less of a man?”

Baby Reindeer ending explained: “I think art is quite interesting when you don't know who you are on the side of”

Courtesy of Netflix

Martha's voicemails become a “soundtrack to Donny's life”

After returning home, Donny receives 50 voicemails from Martha — he decides that it's time to put an end to Martha's harassment. He goes to the police, who suggest he return when Martha threatens violence. He begins listening to each and every voicemail she leaves, waiting for incriminating evidence.

Over the following months, we watch as Donny continues to listen to Martha's messages almost as if he were tuning into a favourite podcast. Meanwhile, Teri begins a relationship with a new man as Donny becomes more and more dependent on Martha's messages.

What happens to Donny and Martha?

One day, Martha leaves an angry voicemail, threatening to stab him or someone he knows. This is the evidence the police needed and Martha is arrested. During the trial, she cries, pleads guilty, and looks at Donny one final time.

After Martha is incarcerated, Donny finds himself adrift and more lonely than ever. Donny's ex, Keeley, comes to see how he's doing and finds a police-style investigation wall about Martha's messages on his wall — it's clear that is, in a way, has his own twisted obsession with her. Keeley suggests that Donny move back in with her mother. There, he finds an old script with notes from Darrien, the man who abused him.

Donny visits Darrien who offers him work. Donny accepts, but the conversation leaves Donny emotionally broken.

“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,” said Gadd of the moment to GQ.

Baby Reindeer ending explained: “I think art is quite interesting when you don't know who you are on the side of”

Ed Miller/Netflix

Once again, he turns to Martha's voicemails, which, we discover, he has now organised into categories based on mood: horny, complimentary, adoring, excited and not listened to.

“You see when her voicemails become a little bit of a soundtrack to his life, when he goes back to Darrien’s house, he needs Martha’s reassurance, he needs her compliments to calm him down,” said Jessica Gunning, who plays Martha, to Radio Times. "I think the voicemails almost represent an ease to his loneliness, and I think that’s what he latched onto – and he found escapism in her words."

Why does Martha call Donny baby reindeer?

Donny finds his way to a pub where he selects a new message. In the voicemail, Martha explains the meaning behind her nickname for Donny. It turns out, Martha once had a baby reindeer toy as a child that was the "only good thing" in her life. Apparently, when she saw Donny, she was instantly reminded of her old toy.

“I had this wee cuddly toy when I was young. Went with me everywhere," she says in the message. '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.”

Donny begins to cry — as he goes to pay for his drink, he realises he has forgotten his wallet. The bartender tells him not to worry, it's on him, in an echo of Donny and Martha's first meeting.

“That’s just such a clever final beat of everything,” said Gunning to Radio Times. “I think it’s amazing, and it just translated so well to the screen.”

Baby Reindeer ending explained: “I think art is quite interesting when you don't know who you are on the side of”

Ed Miller/Netflix

Baby Reindeer's ending is intentionally ambiguous

Baby Reindeer doesn't end with big realisation or a dramatic twist — instead, it ends with a complex, layered emotional outpouring from Donny. In a show as nuanced as Baby Reindeer, it's a fittingly unambiguous denouement.

“I think art is quite interesting when you don't know who you are on the side of,” Gadd explained to Netflix's Tudum. "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.”