Mark Watches ‘Serial Experiments Lain’: Episode 9 – Protocol

In the ninth episode of Serial Experiments Lain, Lain discovers one explanation for her doppleganger while learning the “truth” of her existence. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Serial Experiments Lain.
Trigger Warning: For mention of suicide.


It took me a few passes to get it, but I eventually understood why these brief flashes of history – one that is, until Masami Eiri, totally real! – needed to be in this episode. The lesson that we get concerns communication, secrecy, and community. From the Roswell Incident to the Majestic 12, we get Vannevar Bush’s memex, which is a powerful precursor to the Internet. (I’m fairly willing to believe most government conspiracies as real because my government is terrible, but if I recall correctly, the Majestic 12 was long ago proven to be a hoax.) Serial Experiments Lain traces the concepts in The Wired back to Bush, then to John C. Lilly, who experimented with the human consciousness. Ted Nelson is vital, too, since he developed Project Xanadu (which I heard stirrings about a couple years ago), a concept that has an eerie similarity to the Wired.

But it is in Masami Eiri’s story that we find importance. The man hid code within his work at Tachibana Labs, was fired for it, then died a week later. I don’t think it’s a stretch to theorize that he killed himself in order to send his consciousness to the Wired. Isn’t that what he wanted? What if he kickstarted the whole thing? AND WASN’T THAT LAIN’S FATHER IN THAT PHOTO OF MASAMI? It totally was, which casts a whole new context on him. He knew the whole time, didn’t he? He knew that Lain would one day get involved with this, and NOW I REMEMBER THAT HE GENTLY PUSHED HER TOWARDS HER FIRST NAVI UPGRADE AND OH GOD MY HEAD HURTS. Does this explain his weird statement here on the couch as she confronts Taro? What if she’s close enough to discovering the truth that he is no longer needed? Either this family is completely fake in order to set up Lain, or the world they live in is fake. OR BOTH.

I don’t get it I’M SO CLOSE.

The Chip

This is one of those plots that I come across that’s impossible to talk about in a linear way because the end of it changes how I see the beginning of it. When the DJ handed Lain that envelope, I read it as him passing along the next chapter in her evolution. But now that Taro has told her the truth, that means that the DJ most likely was trying to kill Lain. Is HE one of the Knights??? Why try to take her out?

See, I’m already jumping ahead, but I can’t help it. Taro’s information is GAME-CHANGING. Now we know how it’s possible for their to have been a second Lain in the real world: someone in Cyberia is altering people’s memories. OH GOD, THAT MAKES “RUMORS” EVEN MORE VITAL OF AN EPISODE. It was foreshadowing for something larger. So, that makes me wonder: why is Taro attached to all of this? Are people just interested in the Knights because they’re so notorious? That would be a fascinating bit of social commentary in terms of portraying trends online, and Taro fits that role perfectly. To him, the Knights are cool, a group to be emulated or to be desired. Yet for Lain, they’re hostile, destructive, and scary. They don’t have the same meaning for her.

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE STORY??? Lain knows that the Knights have access to (or are creating) technology that can completely affect memory in the real world, enough that Taro is frightened by Lain’s use of one of their chips on him. She is more aware of the forces at work, but I wouldn’t say she’s completely knowledgable. But she doesn’t know of the history that led to Tachibana labs and Masami Eiri’s experiments. (Or does she? It wasn’t clear to me if those “lessons” were her own research, yet the audience experienced it. I like that head canon. I NOW ACCEPT IT.) So, will her father reveal the truth of everything soon? I don’t imagine that relationship can last much longer. I only have four episodes left, and I still haven’t put it all together.


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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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