It Starts On The Page: Read ‘Baby Reindeer’ Episode 4 Script By Richard Gadd (2024)

Editor’s note:Deadline’sIt Starts on the Pagefeatures standout limited or anthology series scripts in 2024 Emmy contention.

Richard Gadd‘s autobiographical Netflix limited series Baby Reindeer has been a bona fide cultural phenomenon, becoming one of the streamer’s most popular English-language series of all time thanks to word of mouth that spread like wildfire after the thriller debuted to little fanfare in April.

The series, inspired by his own life, stars Gadd as Donny Dunn, a struggling comedian working as a bartender who is forced to unpack his unsettling trauma while dealing with a female stalker, Martha (Jessica Gunning).

Written by Gadd — who penned the entire seven-part series — the much talked-about Episode 4 marks a pivotal point in the story. It is a flashback that departs from the present-day narrative in an effort to shed a light on Donny’s dark past. The episode depicts, in grueling detail, previous sexual abuse that Donny endured at the hands of a television writer who promised to help advance his aspirations of becoming a professional comedian.

The journey to Donny’s past gives a deeper understanding of his actions across the previous three episodes and leaves viewers in a completely different state of mind as they enter the final stretch of the series.

Here is the script for Episode 4, with an introduction from Gadd, in which he explains how he confronted his own shame about his past and pushed himself to go deeper as he kept rewriting the vulnerable script. He also reveals which scene he considers the “seminal episode[‘s]” greatest achievement.

By Episode Four, I was sure the audience would feel frustrated with Donny Dunn. Annoyed, even, by his total inability to take action in his life. I knew the audience would fail to understand why he was encouraging someone so unstable – and worse yet, failing to shut it down in ways which were clear and boundaried. Just why? Why is he behaving this way? Why is he entertaining this dangerous woman…?

I knew that writing Episode Four would be a challenge. It was a lot to ask the audience to pivot so far away from what they knew the show to be and offer them up someone completely different; a self-contained flashback episode detailing a long and protracted sexual abuse storyline. I knew I was asking the audience to dig a little deeper in a series which was already dark enough as it is.

I imagined – if not done correctly – that this could be the moment where viewers might switch off from the show completely, whether through disgust or horror or just plain destabilisation. “Well, this isn’t the show I signed up for!” I pictured turned stomachs and patience wearing thin. I knew it had to be perfect.

It would have been easy to cut this episode out of the show and continue with the Martha and Teri strands in isolation, but it felt important to me to have this storyline in the show – to provide context as to why Donny was behaving the way that he was. Just why he was taking comfort in the most bizarre and uncomfortable of places. Moreover, it felt important to me to honour just how complicated and difficult the fallout from sexual abuse can be.

Living in the aftermath of assault was, in a lot of ways, just as difficult as the abuse itself. In fact, a lot of details not necessarily to do with the assault loomed just as large in my mind in the days, weeks, months, and years afterwards. How many times I went back. How old I was when it happened.

There were drafts of Episode Four where I found myself holding back; where I felt compelled to end things at the cat bowl and show little else. But every time I found myself ending things there or making Donny younger or doing just about anything to avoid the latent “shame” that comes with admitting I was older at the time or the fact I continually went back – it felt fraudulent to me. It eked off the page uncomfortably. It felt jangly and inactive and untrue. It failed to provide the vital context needed at this stage in the series.

So, every time I redrafted Episode Four, I pushed myself to go deeper each time; to work through my shame towards a place which felt more emotionally real. To make sure it correctly honoured my experience and those who might have been through similar. Writing into such an uncomfortable place can be difficult but I knew in challenging myself to show the parts I was most ashamed of, that the episode would take on the kind of emotional resonance that Baby Reindeer is now celebrated for.

Episode Four is often considered Baby Reindeer’s most seminal episode and I do think its greatest achievement comes at the end of the episode when Martha re-enters the bar and you see her trademark smile as the camera zooms in on her face. After the torment of the past forty minutes of television, the audience is suddenly grateful to see her there. To see her back entering the pub. To return to the show they once knew this to be.

It is in this moment where the audience started to understand what Donny saw in her that day when she entered his life. All the strange comfort she offered him, as we feel it too. And it is in the moment, perhaps for the first time in the series, that we start to understand… why?

Click below to read the script. (Note: Due to a technical glitch, a wrong script was submitted. It has been removed. We apologize for the mistake and will update with Episode 4 script when it becomes available.)

It Starts On The Page: Read ‘Baby Reindeer’ Episode 4 Script By Richard Gadd (3)

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It Starts On The Page: Read ‘Baby Reindeer’ Episode 4 Script By Richard Gadd (2024)
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