The creators of Serial Experiments Lain aren’t satisfied with conveying an image of what lay ahead in the near future—instead, they take themes that are deep, though not entirely unique, presenting them in a way that’s hypnotic and subtle. They’re weaving together a tale of blending realities. In this “present day, present time,” there’s no sharp division between the lonely nerd hacker and a powerful businessman. As viewers, we’re willing to accept that blending, as we continue our own metaphysical journey in watching this trippy series.
One man, successful by the measures of finance and sex, plays the Knight’s game. Another man, looking every bit the image of an otaku or nerd, does the same. A housewife demonstrates she knows more than lets on. A man, wearing a strange contraption, wants to know more. A teenage girl accepts an invitation and meets with a man who tells her what she doesn’t know, which makes her tremble with fear, but as she exits their meeting, the girl becomes someone completely different, bold and “dangerous.”
There’s a push and pull going on in Lain. Most of the characters see Lain as an extraordinary entity and react accordingly: The Knights and “God,” who want to use her; the Men in Black, who observe her; and her parents, who act as guardians until she reaches some final purpose. None care for Lain. They don’t see her as human, and as this episode infers, she perhaps isn’t.
On the other hand, Lain desires to be treated as the young girl she is. She wants nurturing from her family. She enjoys her online friendships. And she continues to spend time with her new group of friends at school and especially appreciates Alice. Although perhaps a little too dictatorial in how she feels Lain should live her life sometimes, Alice obviously loves her friend, starting from the point that she experienced the nightclub death with her right through this episode, tracking Lain to the school’s rooftop in order to explain her worries.
Everyone else is calling Lain toward something beneficial for those other than her, whether it’s individual people, an organization, a deity, or society as a whole. But Alice is calling Lain toward friendship. Alice simply cares.
The significance of Alice’s treatment cannot be underestimated. As a plan slowly falls into place, created by the deity of the Wired, or the Knights, or that group of three individuals in this episode that lead that poor man to his death (or all of the above), Lain continues to be manipulated. However, they all seem to ignore the variable that is Alice, who at times seems to be the only one grounding Lain in physical reality.
It seems that even a deity, or a computer program, or whatever Lain turns out to be, needs the very same thing that humans do. As those around her desire wealth, sex, power, and pleasure, but Lain’s need is something even greater. Something, in a sense, that is more human than any of those desires. Her need is love.
Present Day. Question Time.
- I thought it was interesting how Lain’s power is described: “Her metamorphosis. Her will. Her power. The light in her eyes. Her existence.” Vague and somewhat poetic.
- The Knights are becoming more tangible now, and again are rising as major characters in the story. Are these three introduced in this episode “Knights”? They all played “the game” associated with the Knights symbol, which pops up throughout layer seven.
- As I alluded to above, Alice is a bit of a busybody. I don’t remember feeling this way about her before, but that facet of her personality fits—she’s almost perfectly imperfect, and in that way, someone grounded in reality. Too real to be a godly being, but too good to be sacrificed, like Mika.
- Lain doesn’t pay attention in class very much, it seems. I wonder what her grades are like…
- I noticed more complex telecommunications towers in this episode than in those past. I wonder if that’s meant to reflect the increasingly complex connections that Lain is making?
- When you’re Lain, apparently it’s okay to get into cars with strangers.
- Will Smith’s Men in Black are trying to prevent an apocalypse; these Men in Black are find just watching it happen from the sidelines.
Let us know your thoughts below! And join us next Thursday for the next installment.