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Lain is up to something. At this stage, it’s hard to tell what, as we only get little glimpses into her actions. She still seems to be hiding a lot from the world around her, and from the viewer in turn. Ironically, Lain’s blank-faced silence in response to everyone’s questions is its own incrimination. When the police officer tells Lain that she should speak up even if she had nothing to do with it, he doesn’t realize that she’s being silent precisely because she DOES have something to do with it, but her deer-in-the-headlights persona gets her out of it.
Lain of the Wired and Lain of the Meat are slowly synchronizing into one whole. It remains difficult to interpret the physical existence of other-Lain, when the show refuses to show her outright playing that character, but the patrons of Cyberia seem more inclined to share some truth with us than Lain herself.
At the least, we see Lain actually accessing the Wired in its chaotic glory, and Lain begins to show a more active interest in expanding her knowledge as she learns about and installs the Psyche drive. She hopes to take her father on this journey with her, but he refuses to act as her guide any longer; so she establishes new connections to propel her onward.
By the episode’s end, the lines between Lains are becoming pixelated, with Lain’s completely unnatural greeting to her sister seeming to visually degrade into a low-res monitor image.
All of this is set against the backdrop of Lain trying to decide if she should remain in the physical world, or fully integrate into the wired. She hears one voice telling her that death feels amazing–that God exists in the Wired, and that there is nothing left for Lain in this world. However, Lain begins to establish a connection with her classmate Alice, saying her name out loud and committing it to memory for the first time. It’s almost as though Lain is clinging to Alice as an excuse to stay in the physical world, out of fear for changing over. This all sets the seeds for what will grow in the coming episodes.
Lain has changed. The lines between Lain of the Wired and Lain of the Flesh have begun to lose meaning. Lain assures her father that she is still herself, but the definition of herself has already been altered. On an innocent level, Lain seems to have found a passion in her life and is, for the first time, expressing happiness. On a more questionable level, she’s becoming powerful and ambitious in the Wired. With a single expression of anger, she can command her Navi to nethack a headset and blow it off of someone’s face. She can appear before people in the flesh even though she is only present in the Wired. Through the use of her psyche processor, Lain has become very powerful, very fast.
—[personal history with internet, unscripted]—
Lain has found religion in the wired, and even carries a biblical text to boot. She is seeking God in the wired and reaching a sort of omnipresence there along the way. She has transcended the separation of Wired and flesh, and brags how she’ll be able to move in both worlds in full range and full motion soon.
—[observations on the internet’s permeation, unscripted]—
This episode also introduces us to the Knights, who are a parallel for early internet trolls, and eerily reminiscent of what eventually became the collective known as Anonymous. I’ve seen journalistic accounts in the past about how big-time hackers would often claim that they were trying to teach people a lesson about protecting themselves and keeping knowledgeable through their often highly destructive actions. The Knights routing a violent dungeon crawler game into a kids’ hide-and-seek game, resulting in the death of a little girl, feels exactly like the kind of thing a pretentious hacker would do to send a message. We’ll be seeing a lot more of these Knights in the near future, as Lain drags us further down the rabbit hole.