Mark Watches ‘Serial Experiments Lain’: Episode 4 – Religion

In the fourth episode of Serial Experiments Lain, Lain begins her transformation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Serial Experiments Lain.

Trigger Warning: For mention of suicide, death of a child, stalking.

I’d like to say that I have a greater grasp on the material after watching “Religion,” but it’s probably smart to just assume that I have no clue what’s actually happening. However, this episode provided me with a lot more information – some of it gleaned from context clues – than the previous episodes did.

Which means I’m fairly certain that this show (or Lain’s narration) has been lying to me.

And maybe that’s the wrong way of looking at this. I accept that. Lying by omission isn’t quite the same thing, especially if the show isn’t putting certain things on the screen for a reason. I can’t know something like that at this moment because of the nature of how I’m approaching the show. (Huzzah for being unspoiled!) But Lain’s presence in the Wired is absolutely a thing, so that must mean that she entered it in some way prior to the events in this episode.

Obviously, she’s using the Pashuke chip to make a fuller transformation than most do, but she’s definitely online, enough that people are already reaching out to her quite frequently. It could easily explain how images of her were seen in “Girls” and “Psyche,” though I’m not going to pretend to understand the mechanisms behind that. Perhaps there’s a subconscious attachment that happens once you interact with the Wired, even if it’s only your first time. It can create a version of yourself that you’d like to be.

I say that because it felt more clear to me that Lain’s experience is changing her. It’s subtle at first, at least until one of the core group of girls she interacts with points out that Lain already feels different. She’s much more open; her shyness hasn’t completely disappeared, yes, but you can see how much easier it is for her to do something as basic as holding a conversation with another person. She’s usually so quiet that talking is a challenge for her, which the other characters take for granted. It’s easy for them to just be “normal” in this sense, so thus, it’s shocking when Lain becomes more responsibve. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that her experience in the Wired is responsible for this. Neither is it a bad thing in and of itself for a person to find social confidence through their time online. That’s a fantastic thing!

But “Religion takes us to a much darker place online than this one aspect. (Which is not to say we should ignore the positive parts of it, of course.) Lain might be learning more of herself and gaining a confidence she never had, but the Wired is also a FUCKED UP PLACE. The main focus of “Religion” is on PHANTOMa, an action game (that reminded me of Doom) that is maliciously hacked so that it combines with the world of a game of tag. The act creates a terrifying chaos, one that initially made no sense to me. I thought the opening scene was another reference to the bizarre stalking/creeper phenomenon that Lain had experienced multiple times thus far. (Though I now wonder if we were supposed to think of that anyway. HMMMMMM.) Instead, it’s about two worlds colliding. The action game becomes a psychological thriller because there’s a young girl who pursues the men who play it, and she does so relentlessly. It’s all about context: to the men, their game has turned into a horrific nightmare that they cannot stop. They’re the next victim. But to the girl who crosses over into PHANTOMa, she thinks it’s all part of the hide-and-seek game that she is playing.

The tragedy is that the Knights (who were mentioned here again, leading me to believe they’re going to be a bigger thing than I previously thought) are inherently responsible for that young girl’s death. Is she really dead in our world??? CAN THE WIRED KILL PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THE INTERNET? This is so messed up, y’all! Why are the Knights doing this? Just because they can? Are they aware of how their actions thus far have lead to the death of at least the girl and the first guy. I think I’m supposed to connect the dots and make the assumption that the student in the opening scene is also the one mentioned later as committing suicide. But what if it’s just like Chisa? What if another student has found life in the Wired beyond corporeal existence? I suppose anything is possible at this point.

LIKE LAIN EXPELLING THOSE WEIRD DUDES WITH THE TECHNO-GOGGLES BY JUST YELLING AT THEM AND SENDING A SOUND WAVE TO DESTROY A PAIR OF SAID GOGGLES. Look, I don’t know that I needed confirmation that the Wired can give people abilities and powers that are otherwise impossible, BUT THERE WAS MY CONFIRMATION. So the question of whether or not these kids are dead in the “real” world is moot. The Wired can absolutely affect our world, though I don’t understand how.

EVERYTHING IS MESSED UP.

The video for “Religion” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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