In the seventh episode of Serial Experiments Lain, Lain’s friends are concerned, but the mysterious men in black suits are even MORE concerned for her. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Serial Experiments Lain.
The brief subplots that comprise “Society” feel like a slice of this specific life, as if the show wanted to demonstrate to us the various ways in which the Wired can affect people’s day-to-day actions. We catch a glimpse of a stereotypical image of a man surrounded by debris, chuckling at himself as he apparently dedicates the rest of his day to proving that everyone else online is awful. But then there’s also the stay-at-home mom who is raising a son, possibly by herself, who gets new tech for her own enjoyment. There’s the unnamed man who devises an “accessory” of sorts that allows him to have a wireless attachment to the Wired. He uses that to wander Tokyo, begging the Knights to take him in as one of their own. Which seems like a terrible idea, but that’s a separate point.
All these plots feed back to Lain, and there’s no doubt anymore that she is the center of this story. Whatever the Knights are planning to do – and I’m guessing it’s terrible – they want Lain to be the main part of it. “Society” is not the first time they’ve used her image in their work, but it’s the most obvious confirmation of the separate identities at play here. The Lain in “Kids” that appears in the sky is an appropriation, one that’s both a way to toy with Lain and to compel her to be a part of their schemes.
So who exactly are the men in black suits, then? A government organization? A mysterious third party who are monitoring the chaos in the Wired and try to prevent some catastrophic event? It’s probably safe to theorize that they aren’t out to get Lain, though I wouldn’t say that they’re on her side, necessarily. Like, I don’t trust them at all. But in this episode, they ask Lain to come with them by promising to tell her who they are. (WHICH THEY DON’T EVER DO, FOR THE RECORD. CHEATERS. I WANT TO KNOW.) Once she’s in the Tachibana Labs, though, they do something unexpected.
They bait Lain. I figured that the whole innocent act that the group’s leader gave was some sort of test. But what the HELL follows that??? They establish her natural talent with computers, which is also surreal to watch because REMEMBER WHEN SHE COULDN’T DO ANYTHING AT ALL???? Yet I don’t understand why they push her so far in terms of existential terror. If I understood this right, they also believe what the Knights have told her (or Deus): that the real world is not so real at all, that everything is an illusion based on the information within the Wired. If that’s the case, then are they working to maintain that illusion? Is that what they’re worried that the Knights will destroy?
That makes a lot of sense, I suppose. But now I’m wondering if they goaded Lain into revealing her Wired personality for a reason. That version of herself isn’t an illusion at all; once threatened, Lain slipped into it fairly quickly. (THAT WAS SUCH A TREAT TO WATCH.) But what purpose does this serve for them? Why did they need to know this? Even more perplexing is the fact that they LET LAIN LEAVE. They’re just going to watch her? Why not act? What do they expect she’ll do? Do they know of the people being harmed or killed by the Knights, and why won’t they do anything about them?
I DON’T UNDERSTAND YET. I feel like I’m closer, but I’m not quite there. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. Yes, you.
The video for “Society” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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