Nightmares and Daydreams Episode 5 “The Other Side” Ending Explained

Adding onto the seemingly disconnected narratives within ‘Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams,’ the Indonesian horror show’s fifth episode presents an intriguing tale about a magical theater with the power to reawaken the past. Bandi, a poverty-stricken artist forced to squat in dilapidated buildings, helms the storyline, set in 1997, as a family man trying to do good by his wife and kid to no avail. Consequently, when a trip down memory lane brings the protagonist to the old ruins of the theater he used to work at, Bandi can’t help but be swept up in the past. Only as he enters the building does the past truly return to him in full glory within the theater’s walls.

However, once Bandi finally pulls himself away from the building’s allure and returns home, he discovers that in the few minutes spent inside the theater, several years have passed in the outside world for his family. Thus, he finds himself at a crossroads, compelled to choose between the present’s bittersweet truth or the past’s rose-tinted nostalgia. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Bandi Finds the Impossible in The Remaja Theater

Even though Bandi and Dewi’s life together remains fraught with financial issues, the couple finds happiness in each other— the kind they wouldn’t trade for the world. Dewi proves the same when she signs away her father’s wealth to keep the life she has built with her husband and young son, Marhan. The same night, Bandi takes the bus to the city center to get some painkillers for Dewi. During the trip, he runs into his old place of employment, The Remaja Theater, where he used to work as a ticket collector. Those were some of the best days of his life, as he got to do work that never felt like a chore to him.

As such, reminiscing about the past, Bandi ventures further into the theater building, which stands broken and rundown on the outside. However, once he steps inside, the theater sustains all the glitz and glamor of its prime days. Furthermore, even the old boss of the former ticket collector, Domi, is present in the theater and still managing the business. Even though the situation puzzles Bandi, he can’t help but revel in such transportation to his past. As things become clear, he realizes the theater’s entrance will take him back to a restored past while the exit door will lead him back to his regular, down-in-the-dumps life. Nevertheless, unwilling to leave his family alone, he decides to return home, leaving the theater behind him.

Nevertheless, as Bandi returns home, he catches his family’s shock and anger. As it would turn out, two years have passed since Bandi left to pick up medicine for Dewi, during which the mother and her son had lost all hope of his return. While they’re reluctant to believe his unbelievable tale at first, Dewi and Marhan forgive him once they realize he didn’t abandon them all those years ago. Consequently, the family goes out to dinner, where Dewi plans their future together now that all three have been reunited.

Eventually, Bandi walks out to buy some cigarettes and ends up getting chased by some thugs after accidentally helping a thief who was trying to steal someone’s bike. In the ensuing chase, the man somehow ends up near the theater once more and enters to save his life. Again, he finds the same old revelry inside the theater as Domi attempts to convince his ticket collector that his family will get over his abandonment. Even though Domi strikes at Bandi’s insecurities, the latter manages not to get talked into a mistake and takes his eventual leave. Similar to last time, several years pass in the outside world by the time he crosses the threshold of the theater’s exit.

Betrayed for a second time, Dewi and a teenage Mehran have moved on with their lives. In fact, Bandi’s wife has married another man. Therefore, once he manages to track his family down to a well-kept house in a good neighborhood, the wife and the son reject him, devastated by his return but unwilling to give him another chance. Thus, realizing he no longer has a place outside the theater’s magical halls, Bandi returns— this time to stay.

Is The Movie Theater Real? Is It in Bandi’s Imagination?

From the get-go, an unnatural mystery surrounds the theater as it weaves in and out of Bandi’s story. The theater presents an evident escape for the character, who repeatedly finds himself lured back to its manufactured warmth as real life becomes too tough for him. Furthermore, the theater seems eager to keep him within its walls, offering it all the fabricated happiness that comes with nostalgia. Still, the place also seems to wring the time out of its prey— Bandi— robbing years of his life in exchange for a few minutes of joy. More than anything, the place’s eerie relationship with time calls for immediate concern.

Nevertheless, drowning in his sadness, Bandi remains unable to see the theater for the trap that it is and consistently falls into its false comfort. Yet, Dewi makes a peculiar discovery upon his third return to the place. The news covers a segment about homeless people dealing with mental illness who continue roaming the streets. After stumbling upon the same, the woman realizes that her ex-husband is one such person, mindlessly wandering the streets as if in a daze.

Consequently, despite her better judgment and her current husband’s advice, Dewi snoops around for the location where they filmed the news segment to try and find Bandi. After driving out to an area surrounded by forests, she spots her former husband in the woods alongside several other similarly dazed individuals. Therefore, it becomes clear that the theater that Bandi has been visiting is only a figment of his imagination.

Every time that Bandi visits the theater, he’s actually being put under a spell that compels him to waste away precious years of his life following some demonic creature that feeds on humans’ consciousness. Since the theater is Bandi’s safe space, the creature’s spell automatically transports him to the establishment to entice the man to stay forever. Nonetheless, his love for his family wins out each time, pulling him back into the real world. For the same reason, every time he comes back, he’s wearing the same clothes with years of dirt. Bandi hasn’t been traveling in time. Instead, he keeps getting trapped in his own mind under an unnatural creature’s control.

Does Bandi Choose The Theater or His Family?

Even though Bandi previously managed to escape the theater twice due to his overwhelming love for his family, the third time proved much harder. For one, Dewi and Marhan have tried to move on and replace his place in their lives with a new man who could provide for them much better than Bandi ever could. As such, he can’t help but feel useless in the face of their newfound comfortable existence without him.

The same offers the creature further fuel to needle Bandi’s insecurities and compel him to stay in the theater forever. Domi, a manifestation of the creature’s manipulation in his mind, spews cruel words about his family’s disappointment in an effort to break his spirit. Meanwhile, Dewi, who has finally located her ex-husband, tries to bring him back to reality by urging him to snap out of his imagination. The creature’s hold on Bandi also loosens due to the woman’s interruption, but the former’s self-doubt remains strong.

While Bandi has managed to escape the creature’s hold on him before, he no longer has the same willpower to fight against its manipulation this time. His insecurities have finally won out now that he’s seen his worst nightmare play out, confirming that Dewi and Marhan would have a better life without him in the picture. For the same reason, Bandi decides to stay in the theater despite his wife’s pleas, becoming a prisoner in his mind forever.

Who is Controlling Bandi? How Did Dewi Fight It Off?

Even though the creature plays an instrumental role in BBandi’sdemise, the narrative offers limited information about it. Considering the hellish theme running as a thread across all disjointed episodes within the show, it’s safe to assume the creature has some demonic origins, perhaps sharing previous antagonists’ home of the Agartha realm. Like the monsters before it, this manipulative creature also targets humans and feeds on harming them and ruining their lives. However, instead of going after one victim at a time, this creature possesses the power to keep dozens of humans under its spell simultaneously.

Although the protagonist, Bandi, doesn’t have the special ability to fight the creature, his wife, Dewi, ends up surprising the audience— and herself— by mirroring the creature’s deadly wails that drive the monster away. Much like the other supernatural elements within the show, Dewi’s powers remain inexplicable while also playing into a theme the viewers have seen before. Nonetheless, despite her superpowers that help her buy the time to try and pull her husband back into the world of the living, Dewi ends up losing the battle against the creature. In the end, the creature’s hold upon Bandi remains, and Dewi is forced to accept her husband’s final abandonment.

Read More: Nightmares and Daydreams Episode 3 “Poems and Pain” Ending Explained