‘Baby Reindeer’ Series Recap & Ending Explained: Who Is Darrien O’Connor?

If there’s one thing I didn’t expect Netflix’s latest seven-part show Baby Reindeer to be, then that would be scary. Created by Scottish comedian Richard Gadd, who also stars as the lead, Baby Reindeer happens to be a horror show—but not your usual kind. There’s no ghost, monster, or supernatural entity lurking around here. It’s much more terrifying than that, actually—stalking. It’s particularly scary when you think about the fact that the whole thing has stemmed from Gadd’s real-life experience. And to think stalking is not the only thing that traumatizes Gadd’s comedian character in the show! The show also explores grooming in a way that scares the living daylights out of you. It’s an extremely difficult watch, but Gadd’s writing (and acting) is so brilliant that you also can’t stop. The ending, however, is bound to leave many questions in your head, and I’m going to make an attempt to find the answers to those. So please bear with me. 


Spoilers Ahead

A Comedian Goes To The Police Station

A man walks into the police station and complains about a woman stalking him. The policeman routinely asks about the details regarding it, and all the man talks about is a flurry of emails and text messages from his stalker. However, the emails are not particularly threatening; rather, they seem like the woman is providing updates about what she’s doing to the man. But the guy is pretty adamant about the emergency situation. When the policeman asks how long the whole stalking has been going on, the man replies six months. The obvious question that comes up here has to be: why would he take such a long time to report something so severe?


Stalker: The Origin Story

As the man, Donny Dunn, narrates what happened, we go back to the beginning. It all begins with Donny offering a cup of tea to this visibly distressed woman in order to comfort her. He’s a down-on-his-luck comedian working at a London bar; she’s just a random stranger. Their interaction could have just ended with Donny giving her the tea on the house and Martha leaving with a “thank you,” but fate clearly had sinister plans here. Martha starts to visit the bar every single day and keeps talking to Donny. She says she’s a lawyer and keeps naming celebrities like they’re her best friends. Donny, despite realizing she’s clearly lying, continues to be polite and keeps giving her company. Soon he starts receiving the emails, which are harmless and even flattering at first. The emails always come from Martha’s iPhone, but strangely, she doesn’t seem to carry any devices in the bar. Even though his gut already tells him that Martha is bad news, Donny continues to indulge her, which does indicate there’s something wrong with him. One can’t ignore the magnetic pull of getting validation, but for Donny, it seems more about getting seen by someone. His comedy career also improves as Martha suddenly barges into one of his skits, but then she just makes it surprisingly better. After the show, she sort of proposes to him by singing the popular Frank Sinatra song “Something Stupid”.

Things soon turn nightmarish for Donny when he finally finds out that Martha was indeed a lawyer in the past, but then she went down a very dark path and ended up as a stalker. What would you do when a convicted stalker is after you? You go to the police. But what does Donny do? He adds Martha on Facebook, which does hint at his self-destructive tendencies. 


Meet Teri, The New Girlfriend

It’s not exactly an ideal thing to date someone with a very active stalker tailing you, but you can’t blame Donny for seeking love. And he seems to be genuinely into Teri, a transwoman who’s a therapist by profession. But the issue here is that Donny has lied to Teri about both his name and profession. Not that he has any ill intention; it’s just that he’s stupid enough to think that becoming Tony, the construction guy, can keep him away from Martha forever. Soon he comes to the realization that in order to save Teri from Martha, he needs to tell her the truth. He does that, but he doesn’t share the whole truth. All Donny tells her is that he has a stalker, and Teri should be careful. Teri obviously doesn’t want to live her life being scared of someone she doesn’t even know. And she rightfully wants to know why Donny (whom she knows as Tony) hasn’t gone to the police yet. But Donny surprisingly tells her that it’s not that big of a deal, while completely being aware of the fact that it definitely is that big a deal. 

It’s rather foolish of Donny to think Martha would leave him in peace just because of a lame excuse like their age difference might become an issue when Donny eventually wants a family. In fact, now she keeps bombarding him with the information that she’s extremely fertile and very much ready to jump on the whole nine yards—whenever Donny wants. This understandably puts Donny in a position worse than before, and his relationship with Teri also gets affected, with Donny suddenly bailing on her by randomly getting out of the subway, leaving her inside the train. On the same night he does that to Teri, Donny has a traumatizing encounter with Martha right outside his house and ends up being groped and assaulted by her. 


It’s simultaneously frustrating and heartbreaking to see how Donny continues to allow Martha to ruin his life. Soon Martha makes her way into Donny’s house, pretending to be a member of his landlord Liz’s cooking group. This further concerns him as Liz happens to be the mother of his ex, Keeley, and this effectively means two more people Donny knows are under the threat of the menace called Martha. Meanwhile, Donny decides to come completely clean to Teri and apologize to her.When Donny goes to Teri’s flat and apologizes – she gets miffed and asks him to leave. Eventually though, she attends the semifinal of his comedy show. And it goes surprisingly well for Donny, until Martha storms onto the scene (like always) and completely ruins it—that too by showing everyone a text where Donny is begging for intimacy from her. The text was sent to her by one of his idiot coworkers at the bar when he tried to show what Martha was doing in order to ban her. Anyway, Teri is now on Donny’s side, and they manage to sneak out of the competition and end up at the bar, even after all the ruckus caused by Martha. But it was very evident that Martha would find Teri and Donny, and that’s exactly what happens. While Donny tries to calm Martha down, she goes absolutely bonkers after seeing Teri. Everything goes haywire after Martha violently attacks Teri, insults her by calling a man, and even physically hurts her. For the first time, we see Donny angry, and he properly warns Martha to stay out of his life; otherwise, he’ll destroy her. Would you, though, Donny?

Who Is Darrien O’Connor?

Throughout the first three episodes of the show, Gadd keeps his audience wondering why Donny keeps letting “Martha” happen to him and doesn’t take a stronger stand against it. A lot of the activities of the character appear to be questionable, considering the situation. Even if we take the self-destructive nature into account, not clarifying the story behind it would have been lazy on the writer’s part.


So we get back to the police station again, where Donny has come to file a report against Martha. This time around, his narration takes us way back in time—when he just arrived in Edinburgh to make it big in the comedy scene. Unfortunately, though, things didn’t kick off quite well for him. In fact, to say it was quite horrible wouldn’t be an understatement! Donny was obviously heartbroken and wondering if he had made the right career choice. But Donny’s luck changed after getting randomly noticed by Darrien O’Connor, who just happened to be the lead writer of his favorite comedy show, “Cotton Mouth.” Danniel pretty much took Donny under his wing, which would have been beneficial for our poor aspiring comedian if only the older and more famous celebrity was not a predator. And the saddest part is that even after realizing what was happening with him, Donny couldn’t leave. He kept getting sexually abused, which effectively killed the prospect of a relationship with a genuinely good person, Keeley. When he finally got out, Donny was scarred forever. The kind of trauma he had from this entire experience never let him become whole again and also made him what he is now. With the knowledge of what really happened to Donny in the past, it makes all the sense in the world for him to be unnecessarily docile to the wrath of Martha. And he believes reporting Martha for what she’s doing to him would be hypocrisy, considering he never reported Darrien. Martha is probably mentally unstable, but Darrien was sane enough to go ahead with whatever he did, which clearly makes him a bigger psychopath than her.

A New Start

After returning from the police station pretty much empty-handed, Donny finds out that the evil quotient of his sorry life has only increased further, courtesy of a more deranged Martha. Thanks to Martha attacking Keeley by splashing Diet Coke on her (thankfully, not acid), Liz has no other choice but to ask Donny to leave. So he has to move to Kilburn, sharing a flat with two of his former friends from an acting class he took during his Edinburgh days. Fortunately, this turns out to be a blessing for him, as now Martha doesn’t have any idea about where Donny lives, and after what she did to Teri, the bar has also banned her. Donny’s life also gets better with Teri by his side, as their relationship continues to blossom, especially after the whole Martha going crazy on Teri at the bar thing. There’s one giant-sized awkward problem, though: Donny can’t get physically intimate with Teri. This is obviously a psychological thing tied to his past experience, but Teri is obviously not aware of that, which effectively creates a rift between the two. As much as you feel sorry for Donny, if you see things from Teri’s perspective, Donny not getting turned on by her, especially after Martha literally insulted her by calling her a “man,” is particularly hurtful. 


Just when Donny’s thinking maybe Martha won’t bother him anymore, she starts to harass his parents. Even though he hesitated so much about reporting her to the police, an attack on his parents is absolutely not okay with Donny, so he rages to the police station. He does find help this time, with the police realizing Martha is a formerly convicted criminal. The harassment stops for the time- being, but Donny still hasn’t been able to find his way out of the erotic problem. I don’t think any of us expected Donny to be turned on by looking at Martha’s picture and then touching himself, but when you consider that this is a trauma victim who’s going through a lot of new trauma, you can make some sense out of it. Donny going to Matha’s place on his own and sleeping with her does seem a lot like Stockholm syndrome—only here the shackles are invisible. Surprisingly, though, this somehow sorts out his erotic issue with Teri. However, Terri soon gets legitimately concerned over Donny giving too much importance to Martha and potentially ruining their relationship. Despite knowing Teri is right, he keeps arguing, which leads to a breakup. 

On the day of the final of his comedy competition, Donny has his first physical scuffle at the bar with Martha. She’s banned from the bar, but thanks to a callous co-worker, she gets to sneak inside, and what follows is probably what Donny needed to have for a long time: a violent confrontation. A bruised and battered Donny appears on the stage to perform his act, but after a few lukewarm jokes, the comedian loses it and goes all personal. In front of a baffled audience, he goes on to share everything—Darrien, Martha, and how he managed to lose Teri despite truly loving her. And then he just walks away, leaving everyone stunned.


What Happens To Donny?

I would be lying if I said I did hope for a positive ending for Donny after everything the character had gone through. And if Gadd had finished his show with Donny delivering his whole “my life is a pit of misery” monologue, my wish would have come true. Because that scene is cathartic, both for the character and the audience. Sadly, though, that’s not where the story concluded.

So we are back at being a part of Donny’s life again, and it’s great to see him truly happy, possibly for the first time in the show. His career has received an unexpected “Andy Bernard” bloom after him losing it on stage. He’s getting various different (and better) kinds of career opportunities, and most importantly, there’s no Martha on the horizon. But for someone like Donny, happiness is a rather fleeting thing, so now she receives a threatening call from Martha, telling her she would go to his parents with the viral video. He’s freaked out again, thinking about how his parents are going to react knowing their son got raped by an older man, and then subjecting himself to many terrible things as he was going through an eerily confusing phase of his life. To everyone’s surprise, though, Donny’s parents appear to be extremely supportive when they learn about everything. Seeing Donny’s father, who up until now seemed like a stout man, confessing about his own struggles with getting abused as a child is also not something you would see coming.


After his return, Donny tries his hand at seeking help from the police again. The policeman unofficially offers him a solution: to trick Martha into saying something horrible to him, which would land her in legal trouble. But the idea backfired as Martha turned the tables against him by recording Donny asking her to do the whole thing. Realizing his only way out is by finding Martha actually saying something worthy enough to put her behind bars, Donny scours through her many voicemails, eventually getting obsessed by it. He even sympathizes with Martha, to some extent. As strange as this might look, it is an exhibit of trauma victim behavior—at least that’s how I perceive it. He does find enough to nail Martha, though, and she does plead guilty in court, resulting in her being sentenced for everything she has done to Donny and his family. 

When we see Donny ringing the doorbell and Darrien O’Connor opening the door, we wish to see Danny beating the hell out of his abuser, but of course, that’s not what happens. After a very basic conversation, Darrien offers a job to Donny, ironically in the reboot of the old “Cotton Mouth” show, and he just takes it. One might wonder why Donny would go back to work with the man who once ruined his life just for fun, but probably that’s what trauma does to someone. It’s unlikely that Donny has moved on from what happened, or that choosing to work with Darrien is a sign of positivity—at least I fail to see it that way.


In the final scene, we find Donny at a bar, ordering a drink, with Martha in his ear. He still keeps listening to all the voice messages and pretty much empathizes with her. The one message that he’s listening to in the bar turns out to be a rather sweet one—that Martha is going all gaga over him. Tears roll down his eyes. Looking at him in such a sorry state, the bartender asks if he’s okay before serving him the drink. And Donny just happens to not have any money. But the bartender is gracious enough to serve it to Donny for free. This is clearly a callback to how the whole thing between Donny and Martha originally started. No, Donny is not Martha, and nothing’s going to happen between him and the bartender. But the conclusion here is that Donny is still not out of it, and probably he’ll always carry it with her. That’s a very grim way to finish the show, but it also serves as a reminder that many trauma victims are actually not recovering. All you can possibly do is be there for them and help as much as you can.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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