It’s amazing how much a girl can change her face. Those middle school girls look “their age” when they’re in school uniforms, but get them in their club attire with their makeup and you’ve got a whole new look—and never believe that isn’t the point. Lain is the sneakiest of them all, fabricating different looks to fit the different situations that she finds herself in at the Cyberia club.
Who’s lain again?
The biggest way that Serial Experiments Lain fucks with us is through our narrative expectations. We expect that what we see is the truth about a character, and that there’s nothing important going on when the proverbial camera isn’t rolling. The truth is that Lain is up to big things, and only through inverting our narrative expectations do we recognize a new, more coherent meaning for Lain’s actions. Instead of a childish and aloof girl who does unexplainable weird things, we have a cold and calculating genius putting on a facade of childishness and aloofness.
Is that lain?
Lain is honest when she tells the delivery man that she knows jack shit about the new computer that her dad has bought her. It would melt in with the rest of her aloof attitude if that attitude weren’t a lie. The person who’s closest to seeing Lain’s true nature is her father. She asks him to set up her navi before dinner, and when asked why she’s in such a hurry, she just stares at him until he understands her impatience. While he jokes about being able to show off to her friends, he nonetheless preaches on about the importance of the wired and of communication. He at least knows that there’s a change sparking in his daughter that he might help to ignite.
Forget it, that is so not you.
Who is Lain? What is she up to? One thing’s for sure: she was definitely in Cyberia fucking things up. Lain never refutes the idea that she was the one in Cyberia—she only tries to figure out how much the girls know about what was happening that night. She seems disappointed by the fact that the girls could almost tell it was her (or perhaps by the fact that they don’t think it could’ve been her). Why was she there? What’s her significance in the drug trade going on there? At the end of the episode, a man on Accella flips his lid and shoots some people dead. He freaks out at the sight of Lain, rambling about how the wired shouldn’t interfere with the real world. Lain gets pissed, walks right up to him, looks him in the eye, and says, “no matter where you are, we are all connected!” The terrified man blows his own brains out, splattering blood across Lain’s face.
Lain is important. Is she important through the wired, or in the meat? How long has she been important? How much time has passed since the first episode? No clue. I hope the second Serial Experiment can answer some of these questions. More importantly, we understand why Lain doesn’t respond to the girls telling her to get out more, do fun things, change her image, etc. She has a look about her like she wants to tell Alice, “you’re wrong about me. I’m not just some quiet, alienated girl. I’m already wired.” But she knows that she can’t talk about the kinds of things that she’s up to.
Hey, so who’s this lain?
How spoiled are this show’s youth? Lain’s family is clearly high-end rich, with her father buying her a top-of-the-line PC at the drop of a hat. Lain’s sister is the picture of an uncaring spoiled high schooler who blows off her family. In this world, elementary school kids can somehow get into a night club where drugs are being sold by the waitresses. The wired is a picture of chaos, but the real world is every bit as wild. Where does Lain fit in? The wired will eventually make her an unstoppable force in its world, but was she already powerful in the real world? I can’t be certain of anything except that Lain is keeping secrets from everyone.
– Quotes from Layer 02’s chat room conversation in ab# rebuild an omnipresence in wired