Nightmares and Daydreams Episode 3 “Poems and Pain” Ending Explained

In ‘Poems and Pain,’ the third episode of ‘Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams,’ a struggling novelist tries to pen a sequel to an older work only to be pulled into a series of mysterious blackout writing episodes. After author Rania Dewi takes on the task of producing the next part of a novel she wrote on domestic abuse through the eyes of a victim, she finds herself getting entangled in the struggles of her protagonist, Laras. Every night, Rania loses consciousness and wakes up with several chapters of her new book already drafted. Alarmingly, she also suffers the same bruises inflicted on Laras in her novel.

‘Poems and Pain’ weaves a tale in which the line between a writer’s fictional world and her personal life blurs in an insidious fashion. The more Rania progresses in her novel, the more she is convinced of the reality within her made-up story. With mysteries rooted deep in her psyche and her past, the novelist attempts to glean the truth behind her bouts of unconsciousness and the identity of Laras. As questions stretch far and wide, holding profound implications for the nature of Rania’s haunting, the ending of the episode resolves many burning queries while opening the door to much more. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Rania and Her Mysterious Writing Process

After a lackluster book signing event, Rania Dewi, author of her new book, Period, is forced to forgo a reinvention and return to her old work, Poems and Pain. Her publisher, Hendra Ono, suggests she should write a sequel for the novel, convinced that she would stay relevant by giving the people what they want. The novelist acquiesces to his reasoning despite her reservations. While writing the first novel, Rania lost herself in the fiction she had created. She suffered several blackout episodes, during which she found chunks of her book had already been written. Initially, a younger Rania had put it down to a typical case of a writer getting sucked into her character’s life.

As the author begins her sequel, she is frustrated by the lack of words on the page. A whole day passes where she barely writes more than a perfunctory first sentence. As night darkens the windows, Rania is close to giving up when she triggers a small pendulum machine on her desk and taps her keyboard gently. Moments later, she loses consciousness and wakes up on the same desk, disheveled. Feeling out of sorts and dizzy, she takes a dip in the bathtub only to discover a frightening bruise on her left shoulder. Rania rushes downstairs and opens her document, realizing she has written several pages of her new novel with no memory or knowledge of having done so.

Afraid she is losing control again, Rania asks Hendra to monitor her the next night as she sits down to write. Triggering the same pendulum machine and tapping the keyboard rhythmically, she loses consciousness. This time, her publisher witnesses her through a webcam on her desk. Rania’s eyes roll back into her head as her hands fly across the keyboard. She hallucinates visions of her character Laras, in first person through her eyes, as her husband beats her up. The chilling account is cut short by Hendra shaking her awake and forcing her back into her body. Unable to contain herself, Rania divulges her experience to him at a local bar, where the two ponder about Laras and wonder if she is real.

Although Hendra warns Rania against delving into the new novel, the writer is adamant about discovering what Laras looks like. She makes contact twice, believing it to be the key to the mystery. One of her encounters turns particularly sour when she is beaten harshly by Laras’ husband while she is in her head. Furthermore, Laras has a daughter, Asti, who stays with her in a locked basement underneath somewhere. Back in her body, the beating in her vision forces the writer to seek medical help from Hendra’s friend. The pair are together when the writer makes her second contact with Laras’ consciousness. This time, she successfully determines the woman’s appearance by asking her to find a mirror. Consequently, she is stunned to discover that Laras and Rania are identical.

Does Rania Have a Twin Sister?

Rania’s regular blackout sessions are an enigmatic part of the narrative. The writer is plagued by this issue only when she writes Poems and Pain and its sequel. While channeling the suffering of her protagonist, Laras, she often writes her novel in a dream-like trance. She never recalls how or what informs her writing impetus during those moments when she loses consciousness. All she knows upon waking is that her novels have progressed smoothly, and there are remnants of bruises and injuries on her body. These get dramatically worse when Rania takes on the challenge of penning the sequel. As her visions of Laras get clearer with each session, she becomes aware that the woman might be more tangible than she first imagined. Not only that, she might even be related to her.

After discovering Laras’ appearance and its striking resemblance to herself, Rania takes a trip to her parent’s place with Hendra. There, the group has a candid discussion about the writer’s past and her childhood. Rania’s father reveals to her that she had a twin sister who was lost from the family tree due to the actions of him and his wife. When they were still young, the twins were given away for adoption because the parents could not support them financially. A year later, regretting their decision, they retrieved Rania back from adoption but couldn’t manage the same for her twin, Laras. She was lost and could not be found. Now, that same woman was haunting Rania during her writing spells, locked in some basement with her daughter by an abusive partner.

Thus, while channeling the narrative of her Poems and Pain novel, Rania was not writing fiction but events experienced by her twin sister Laras’ pain and suffering. The two being closely related helped them bridge the gap in time and space as they both jumped in and out of each other’s consciousness. While neither knew the other’s existence, they could look into their minds at specific moments. For Rania, this happens whenever she writes her stories, which help her glean insight into Laras’ struggles with violence. The injuries suffered by Laras are left on her twin as well. The former even admits that, at times, she has dreamt of Rania but thought of her as a different version of herself who was free.

Does Rania Save Laras and Her Daughter?

Upon learning that her twin is locked up and regularly subjected to violence, Rania makes it a priority to save Laras and her daughter from the basement. She cannot allow her twin sister to suffer any more than she already has in her life. As they were separated at birth, Rania and Laras’ life could have been very different had things happened a little alternatively. By luck or by chance, Rania had been rescued by her biological parents after being given away for adoption. However, her sister suffered a much crueler fate as she was never found and then, years later, wound up in a locked prison with a man who beat her up constantly. Therefore, saving her was the only thing that mattered to Rania, who had even let go of writing the sequel novel, which seemed inconsequential by comparison.

After meeting with her parents, Rania and Hendra hold another contact session to ascertain the location of Laras’ prison. Once the writer jumps into Laras’ mind, she becomes aware that Asti, her daughter, is sickly and morbidly ill. Desperate, the woman bangs on the cellar door, which invites her captor to enter the basement. She pleads with him to take Asti to the hospital, which he vehemently opposes. After Laras fights back against him, he is forced to retreat while the woman finds a small badge in the room that details where her husband works.

Using the information, Rania pinpoints Laras’ location, and she and Hendra take off in their car. Inside the car, she finds out the identity of her twin sister’s husband – his name is Adrian Rajasa. In the middle of their journey, Rania witnesses another vision of Laras. As Adrian storms down to the cellar with a hammer in his hand, he becomes aware that Laras’ consciousness has been taken over by someone else. The writer threatens to expose Adrian’s identity as an abuser and psychopath to the world if he strikes Laras. However, this proves to be an ineffective ploy as the man pummels Laras across the head with his weapon. Rania is thrown out of her twin’s body as she and Hendra race to save her before it’s too late.

Once at his place, Hendra holds up Adrian by threatening him with a fake gun while Rania goes off to find the cellar door to the basement. She finds it under a carpet and goes down only to discover that Laras has been mortally wounded by the hammer blow she received earlier. The two sisters have a moment to connect, and the latter pleads with Rania to leave her in the basement and save her daughter. There isn’t enough time or energy to help both of them. Devastated, Rania makes the tough decision to leave her twin sister behind while carrying Asti away with her. The group escapes the house and heads off to a hospital to treat Asti’s sickness, which she ultimately survives. Therefore, while Rania wishes to save Laras and her daughter, she has to settle for only one in the end, and it isn’t her twin.

Is Adrian Arrested?

Laras describes Adrian as not being human. She says this during Rania’s vision of her and when the two sisters meet before her eventual death. The man is inhuman in his violence and subjugation of his wife. There are psychotic elements of darkness embedded in him. Additionally, a sinister element is revealed when, after a fight with Laras near the end, his face changes to reveal black-beaded eyes and a demonic appearance. His actions reflect the same when Rania gets a glimpse into his mind. She is transported to a realm called Agartha, where dark creatures howl in a city of menacing structures. Adrian’s nature is twisted and more deviant than that of a normal human being.

At the end of the episode, Rania is content that after the years of pain inflicted upon Laras by Adrian, he is finally about to go to prison. However, as the writer and Asti prepare to start a new life away from everything that has happened thus far, she is informed by Hendra that Adrian’s punishment may not happen as they expected. When Rania rushes to his house to prove that he is the perpetrator of violent crimes against her sister, she finds out that the basement and the room its entrance was located in have changed entirely. Thus, it throws even further shade into the picture of Adrian and who he is in reality. As he escapes punishment from the law, Rania promises that his comeuppance is around the corner, but for the time being, he gets away scot-free.

Read more: Nightmares and Daydreams Episode 2 “Orphans” Ending Explained