‘Baby Reindeer’s’ Poignant Finale and What It Truly Means

By Daniel Hart
Published: April 11, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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Baby Reindeer Season 1 Ending and Theories Explained
Richard Gadd as Donny in Baby Reindeer (Credit - Netflix)

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

I experienced many emotions in the last episode of Baby Reindeer, which made me feel hollow. The ending is clever, giving Donny a moment of clarity that brings the series full circle, but what does it all mean? I have pondered the various moments of Episode 7—here are my theories and opinions. 

Baby Reindeer Ending and Theories Explained

Donny’s Breakdown and Going Viral

First, let’s talk about the incredible monologue from Episode 6, with Richard Gadd putting on a career-turning performance to demonstrate the lowest point of Donny’s life. Donny was only meant to perform a stand-up routine in the final of a comedy competition, but he found himself having a poorly timed breakdown for the world to see: everyone knows about his life, the abuse he faces, and his demons. 

Conveniently, the finale sees his breakdown going viral online, leading to amazing opportunities and a jumpstart for a successful career. However, it never felt like Donny was happy. He still has that void that hurts him. 

Of course, it does not help that Martha is still harassing Donny at this stage. She managed to get his number, and it’s voicemail after voicemail. But what gets Donny’s attention the most is the threats to his family. 

Donny Learns a Dark Truth About His Father

And that provides the first eye-opening scene in Episode 7. Donny meets his parents to give them a heads up on the viral video: he expresses his confusing sexuality and how he was raped by a writer that promised him TV career opportunities. 

It’s an emotional moment for Donny, who expects his parents to disapprove of his life and choices, but instead, he’s met with his father’s admission that he grew up in the Catholic Church. In case that went over anyone’s head, his father was hinting that he was molested as a child by a Catholic priest. This is a significant moment: father and son realize they have more in common with tragic circumstances. 

Jessica Gunn as Martha in Baby Reindeer (Credit – Netflix)

Martha’s Downfall

For the first time, I felt happy for Donny. He had everything out in the open. He was FREE. At this stage, he believed he had finally gotten rid of all his demons, but all he had to do was get rid of that pesky, unrelenting, obsessive stalker, Martha. 

After speaking to a regular police officer, Donny realizes he must collect as much evidence about Martha as possible, so he listens to all her voicemails as if it were a podcast. He doesn’t respond (which he struggles with); he listens and waits for the inevitable threats. 

And the threat comes: Martha threatens to stab Donny and his family. The smoking gun. The downfall of Martha. 

At various points in this series, I’ve felt confused by my feelings towards these characters. Episode 7 sees Martha in court for stalking and harassment charges. Donny watches in the audience as Martha pleads guilty and is sentenced to 9 months in prison and a 5-year restraining order.

I feel sorry for her as she sobs and sees Donny in the audience. As much as I condemn her crimes, I’m reminded that loneliness can do the darkest things to people.

Donny Cannot Escape His Trauma

Donny’s abuser Darrien (played by Tom Goodman-Hill) in Baby Reindeer (Credit – Netflix)

Donny has a new lease on life, but nothing is straightforward in Baby Reindeer. He gets his life back on track but quits comedy and moves back in with Keeley’s mother. He’s also made it his mission to collate all the information he has on Martha, creating an entire archive. 

But then, trauma returns for Donny as he sees an old script he wrote, with notes written on them from his abuser, Darrien. Strangely, Donny visits Darrien. It’s a difficult moment to articulate as both men act like their experiences with each other in the past are not the giant elephant in the room. Darrien even makes Donny aware that he’s seen the viral video that references his abuse. He then offers Donny paid work. Was this a bribe? Or is Darrien so complacent with his position over Donny that he does not care? Donny accepts his offer but has a panic attack when he leaves. 

My theory: He’s realized that removing Martha from his life doesn’t remove his past. He didn’t accept the job offer to take the job; he realized where he was and how it was still impacting him and found a way to leave.

The Ending of Baby Reindeer Gives Understanding of Donny and Martha’s Bond

Okay, and now for the ending of Baby Reindeer, which left me feeling empty. I had to sit and think about what it meant. I’m sure many others have wildly different theories from mine. 

Donny heads to the pub and listens to Martha’s old voicemails, in which she compliments him incessantly. Ironically, it makes him smile. However, he reaches a voicemail where Martha describes a cuddly toy she used to have when she was young – a baby reindeer. She describes how it made her feel safe and that it was the only good thing from her childhood. Martha reveals that’s why she nicknamed Donny “baby reindeer.”

Donny sobs as he listens to this and then orders a drink at the bar. But he realizes he doesn’t have money for it. The barman gives him the drink for free, seeing that Donny is upset and not in the best headspace. Donny’s face represents a self-realization: just like he felt sorry for Martha in Episode 1 and offered her a free drink, the barman feels sorry for him. 

Donny giving Martha her usual free drink in Baby Reindeer (Credit – Netflix)

The realization here is blatantly obvious and brings the series full circle, but I also think there’s more meaning to this. This scene confirms that Donny needed Martha as much as she needed him, which manifested in the ugliest ways. While he felt sorry for Martha the first time he met her, he didn’t realize he needed someone to feel sorry for him.

Of course, he didn’t want to be stalked obsessively, but Martha gave him more than he bargained for. In the dying moments, I feel like Donny saw himself more clearly, thus realizing that Martha was an equal to him. 

What did you think of the ending of Baby Reindeer Episode 7? Comment below with your theories. You can also check out the spoiler-free review for an opinion on the series overall.


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