‘Baby Reindeer’ Ending, Explained: What Happened to Donny and Martha?

Netflix’s miniseries from Richard Gadd has taken television by storm

Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd in "Baby Reindeer." (Netflix)

There are few shows on television quite like “Baby Reindeer.” The fact that Richard Gadd’s dramatic miniseries dropped on Netflix with little to no promotion makes it feel even more distinct.

Based on Gadd’s autobiographical one-man show of the same name, the seven-episode series follows Donny Dunn, an aspiring standup comedian and current bartender who makes the grave mistake of offering a woman a cup of tea on the house. That nice gesture upends his world, as “Baby Reindeer” chronicles one woman’s growing obsession with him, the complexities of both having a stalker and being flattered by her attention, and how Donny’s view of himself came to be so low. Both unflinchingly honest and at times bizarre, the series follows in the footsteps of art such as Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You,” Hannah Gadsby’s “Nannette” and Abby McEnany’s “Work in Progress.”

Here is exactly how Gadd’s harrowing miniseries ends. What that may mean for Donny’s future remains to be seen:

How does “Baby Reindeer” on Netflix end?

At the beginning of “Episode 7,” Donny (Gadd) learns a frustrating truth that has plagued comedians for years: brutal, unrelenting confessions can be great for your career, even if they’re not funny. After spilling his guts onstage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a video of Donny’s performance takes off, and his career skyrockets with it. Donny starts receiving so many email requests that he makes a fatal error: He leaves his cell phone number as his away message.

It isn’t long before his stalker Martha (Jessica Gunning) pounces on it, and she’s furious. Martha starts to relentlessly call Donny from an unknown number, leaving voicemail after voicemail. Sometimes she screams at him for the way he presented her onstage. Other times, she confesses her love to him. But the one message that really gets Donny’s attention is her threat to tell his parents about his viral video.

Donny travels back to Scotland, desperate to get to his parents before Martha outs him. Once there, he lays out everything to them, from the fact that he’s not straight to opening up about being raped. Terrified of his parents’ reaction, he admits that he didn’t originally tell them because he was afraid they would think he was less of a man.

“Would you see me as less of a man?” his father (Mark Lewis Jones) responds. That’s when Donny learns that his father was sexually assaulted when he was growing up in the Catholic church.

Donny takes a few days to unplug and enjoy his parents’ company, finally feeling free for the first time in years. That peace is ruined when he turns his phone back and finds hundreds of voicemails from Martha. After the police swore off the both of them, an officer covertly suggests that Donny listen through Martha’s voicemails for any overt threats of violence. If he finds one, then Donny may be able to take legal action.

Baby Reindeer
Martha (Jessica Gunning) in “Baby Reindeer” (Photo Credit: Netflix)

Of course, because of Martha’s experience with stalking and her history as a lawyer, her tracks are covered well. As Donny listens to her messages and waits for her to slip up, he becomes as obsessive about her as she is about him, sorting her voicemails by content and mood. Martha’s ramblings become Donny’s own personal podcast. He even plays one of her kinder messages when he’s feeling especially low about himself.

Finally, he finds a message where she threatens to stab his parents, and that’s enough. Armed with that evidence, the police apprehend Martha for harassing Donny, Gerry and Elle (Amanda Root), and Martha pleads guilty to it all. She’s sentenced to nine months in prison and five years of probation.

Though that’s one demon Donny will never see again, he’s unable to shake his other demon. Unable to cope without Martha in his life, he spirals, causing his roommates to ask his ex-girlfriend Keeley (Shalom Brune-Franklin) for help. She comforts him and insists Donny go back to living with her mother, Liz (Nina Sosanya). But as kind as these gestures are, they’re not enough.

In an attempt at closure, Donny returns to see Darrien (Tom Goodman-Hill) one last time. But instead of yelling at him, the two have a polite conversation. Darrien admits that he’s seen Donny’s viral video where he accuses Darrien of raping him, though not by name. He offers Donny a paying job in the revival of “Cotton Mouth.” Donny initially seems to think about turning the offer down, but he ultimately accepts, his hunger for fame overpowering his own sense of self protection.

The interaction causes Donny to have a panic attack, which he tries to sooth by listening to another voicemail from Martha. While recovering in a pub, he stumbles across one he’s never heard before. In it, Martha explains that she calls him “Baby Reindeer” because he reminds her of a toy she had as a child. He orders a pint at the bar but is unable to pay for it after forgetting his wallet.

In a mirror of how his relationship with Martha started, the bartender takes pity on Donny and gives him a drink on the house. The miniseries ends with Donny wide-eyed and haunted, in the exact same position Martha was once in: In awe over a bit of kindness from a stranger.

What happened to Martha in “Baby Reindeer?”

After threatening to stab Donny’s parents, Martha was arrested and confessed to all counts of stalking and harassing Donny and his family. She was given nine months of jail time and five months of probation. In the series, Donny said he never saw her again.

What’s “Baby Reindeer” based on?

The Netflix series is based on Gadd’s autobiographical one-man show of the same name. It’s based on Gadd’s experience being stalked and sexually assaulted in his 20s.


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