Jigsaw: explaining the ending of the new Saw film
Spoilers! If you’re scratching your chin after watching Jigsaw, here’s our spoiler-filled attempt to explain it...
This article contains spoilers for Jigsaw.
The trailers for Jigsaw presented Saw fans with a mystery: if Tobin Bell’s John Kramer is dead, how come there is a new batch of Jigsaw victims just now beginning to emerge? Various fan theories were available, but in the end, only one of them could be true.
This is your final warning: after this image of our spoiler squirrel, we’re going deep into Jigsaw spoilers…
To continue the franchise even further following John Kramer’s death, Jigsaw uses two classic storytelling devices from the Saw playbook: the new film teaches us that Jigsaw had one more secret apprentice, and it uses flashbacks to showcase yet another house of horrors concocted, built and inhabited by John prior to his death.
As a long-time fan of the franchise, I was hoping for something a bit more original this time around. Regardless, the easiest way to explain Jigsaw’s twists and turns is to spell them all out in chronological order. So, let’s get cracking…
A while before his death, and before most of his other traps, Jigsaw converted an old farmhouse owned by his wife’s family into a series of deadly games.
John populated the farmhouse with bad people: his neighbour Anna (played by Laura Vandervoort), who killed her baby and framed her husband for the crime; Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles), who sold a faulty motorbike to John’s cousin, which ended up killing him; Ryan (Paul Braunstein), who caused the death of a car-load of people, by pratting around in his youth; Carly (Brittany Allen), who mugged a woman and left her to die; and, most importantly, Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore), a doctor who accidently mixed up some X-rays, which meant that John’s cancer went undiagnosed for a fatally long period of time.
The first trap these people had to face was the ‘bucket-head’ challenge. John’s tape told them to made a blood offering, however small, to survive. Everyone did this expect for Logan, who woke up later than the rest of the victims, and was resultantly pulled backwards into a wall of razor-sharp circular saws.
Logan can be seen on the far right in this image, which shows the contestants just before they woke up:
The rest of the contestants progressed through to the next room, assuming Logan to be dead. However, after the doors slammed shut, John rushed into the first room and rescued Logan. Deciding to take pity on Logan and forgive his ‘honest mistake’ with the X-rays, John stitched him up and recruited Logan as an apprentice. We don’t really get to see it happen, but Logan seems to be on-board with the whole Jigsaw thing and he willingly enters into this apprenticeship.
Everyone else from the original farmhouse games wound up dead, and their bodies weren’t found for ten years. Mitch died a particularly grisly death in a complicated trap that incorporated numerous motorcycle pieces.
Originating a cruel trick that he would later revisit in the first Saw’s iconic bathroom trap, John hid the keys to the contestants’ ankle chains within the final stage of the farmhouse games. This time, instead of leaving them in a bathtub, he secreted the keys in a bullet shell. So when Anna shot Ryan, she inadvertently mangled up the keys and stopped either of them from being able to escape. She also blew her own face off.
After being stitched up, Logan helped John build the iconic Reverse Bear-Trap device. This item would ultimately be used on Amanda (Shawnee Smith) in the original Saw film, and on various people afterwards.
This brief scene, of Logan and John building the Reverse Bear-Trap, confirms that the traps from the farmhouse in Jigsaw predate the main chain of events from the first Saw. (As Saw III’s flashbacks showed us, Amanda was recruited after her Reverse Bear-Trap test. Upon joining Team Jigsaw, she helped set up the bathroom game from Saw. So, in a way, Jigsaw is both a sequel and a prequel to Saw.)
John, while building the Reverse Bear-Trap, taught Logan that Jigsaw tests cannot be used for vengeance. John mentioned at this point that the games he creates are intended to ‘speak for the dead’, punishing and testing people that committed crimes and got people killed. (John was particularly fond of this mantra in Saw VI, where he posthumously targeted a health insurance baddie who let him die to save company money.)
Funnily enough, John never mentioned Logan in Saw, Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI or Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. Over the course of those films, John recruited various other apprentices. The aforementioned Amanda assisted John in setting up various traps, as did Costas Mandylor’s Detective Hoffman. Cary Elwes’ Doctor Gordon wound up being useful, as well, helping Jiggy with his surgical needs after chopping off his own foot in the Saw bathroom.
If you’re struggling to remember the status of those three: Amanda got killed by one of their victims in Saw III, Hoffman was locked in the bathroom and left to die in The Final Chapter, after murdering John’s widow, and Doctor Gordon was the only apprentice – that we knew of at the time – who was still standing at the end of The Final Chapter.
Did Logan know any of John’s other apprentices? Did he work on anything else besides the Reverse Bear-Trap? Was he lurking in the background during all the previous Saw films? At the moment, it’s impossible to answer any of those questions with certainty. But Jigsaw does offer some clues.
The film makes it clear that, at some point, Logan served in the American military. He was involved in the conflict with the Taliban, and his case file mentions brutal interrogations. Maybe Logan’s service is the reason for his absence in the previous films.
Logan also got married at some point, but his wife died a couple of years before the events of Jigsaw. Perhaps his grief pushed him back towards John Kramer’s teachings.
Additionally, Logan just so happened to end up working with Eleanor Bonneville (played by Hannah Emily Anderson), a John Kramer enthusiast who frequents JigsawRules.com and has built replicas of his traps in her grungy studio.
With John, Amanda and Hoffman dead – and Doctor Gordon seemingly inactive – many years went by without any Jigsaw killings. But then, Logan hatched a plan…
While working as some sort of medical expert for the police department, Logan noticed that Callum Keith Rennie’s Detective Halloran (pictured above) was a right piece of work. Halloran was taking bribes, letting criminals go free, and getting innocent people locked up in prison. Logan realised, at some point, that Halloran is exactly the sort of person that Jigsaw would target.
Logan decided to hatch a very complicated plan; one that would end with Halloran being both killed and framed as a Jigsaw copycat. It started with Josiah Black’s Edgar Munsen, a police informant that Halloran was very familiar with. Logan put Edgar into a game, which culminated with him on a roof, in a standoff with the police, holding a trigger. Edgar’s options were to press the trigger and start another game, or die.
Edgar opted to press the trigger. The police shot at him. And so did Logan, from a nearby rooftop. Logan shot Edgar near the heart, which resulted in Edgar going into a coma.
Edgar’s pressing of the trigger kick-started a new version of the farmhouse game. Using the same traps that John had built 10+ years ago, Logan had put a gang of lookalikes into the same scenario. Whenever one of the lookalikes died, Logan sent their corpse into Halloran’s path. First up was a chap in a bucket-head, whose face had been totally destroyed by the same circular saws that nearly killed Logan all those years ago.
This was a big misdirect, intended to throw audiences off the scent of the incoming plot twist. We see the first bucket-head (actually Logan) get walloped by the saws, and then we see the second bucket-head (some other dude) hanging from a tree. There’s no indication, to start with, that these are different people. Nor is it made clear that the farmhouse traps we’re seeing play out are actually a ‘ten years prior’ flashback.
Using his access-all-areas medical powers, Logan gets hold of John Kramer’s blood and makes sure it can be found under the fingernails of the second dead bucket-head. Logan is also an audio-editing master, and he has amalgamated some old recordings to make it sounds like John Kramer has been making new tapes. This sends Halloran, and the audience, down the rabbit hole of wondering whether the original Jiggy has somehow come back to life.
Meanwhile, in both the flashbacks and the modern day, people keep dying in the farmhouse traps. The original bodies were left to rot there ten years ago, but the newbies – the lookalikes’ corpses – are being left around town for Halloran to discover.
Halloran begins to suspect that Eleanor is the new Jigsaw, because he tracks her online activity to JigsawRules.com. As if on cue, Eleanor – who has no idea about Logan’s secret – invites Logan to visit her studio. It’s a grim workshop filled with Jigsaw memorabilia and replicas. Logan has a little look around, taking a moment to admire the Reverse Bear-Trap and Eleanor’s replica of the motorbike-assisted human blender.
At some point in amongst all of this, the audience gets a big clue about Logan: we see him getting out of bed and revealing his bare back, which is covered in scars. Of course, he got these scars when he was in the bucket-head trap ten years ago. But, on first viewing, we don’t know that yet.
The film constantly tries to throw us off the scent: we see John Kramer alive and well in a farmhouse, and it still hasn’t been made clear that these are flashbacks to 10+ years ago. In hindsight, though, when John removes his hood and no one in the scene mentions that he’s meant to be dead, that’s a pretty big clue.
But because fresh bodies keep being sent to Halloran shortly after the deaths in the farmhouse flashbacks, there is no real reason to suspect there’s a massive time jump happening between almost every scene. Long-time Saw fans may have suspected something, though, given that Saw II and Saw IV also played with timelines to engineer their twists.
Logan starts trying to convince everyone that Halloran is the Jigsaw copycat. He uses some slight of hand and a bullet switcheroo to make it look like Halloran shot Edgar in the chest. Logan’s bogus story is that Halloran must have shot Edgar to stop him from talking, to protect his secret identity as the new Jigsaw. Logan convinces Eleanor that Halloran can’t be trusted.
Eventually, Eleanor – having found a rare pig disease in one of the DNA samples from the bodies – works out where the games are being played. Logan and Eleanor head to the farmhouse. Logan makes sure that Eleanor sees plenty of fresh blood there.
In the end, Eleanor flees from the farmhouse, having seen enough to believe that Logan isn’t Jigsaw but Halloran probably is. At this point, Logan captures Halloran. Logan puts himself in a two-man game with Halloran, involving laser necklace thingies. The idea of this trap is simple: if you confess your crimes, you go free.
Logan goes first. He says a bunch of stuff, and then fakes his own death. The lasers move (although his ones are clearly ineffective), and fake blood splatters everywhere. Halloran buys it, believing that Logan is dead. Then Halloran’s game begins. Halloran confesses to everything: the people he let die, the bribes he took, and the innocent people that suffered.
At this point, taking some clear inspiration from John Kramer’s bathroom antics from the first movie, Logan stands up off the floor. He explains that he was the original bucket-head, and that Jigsaw saved his life. He explains that the bodies Halloran has been receiving are actually lookalikes, and that the original farmhouse game took place years ago – before Jigsaw’s death. Logan shows off the decomposed bodies on the floor in order to illustrate his point.
The pieces suddenly slot, somewhat bizarrely, into place. Logan has those scars because he was the bucket-head whose back was torn to shreds. Halloran is being targeted because innocent people keep dying as a result of his corruption, and Logan is sick of doing the autopsies and whatnot.
Halloran enquires about the nature of this game. Shouldn’t he get a chance to save himself? Logan explains that no such opportunity is going to be occurring. Logan quotes Jigsaw’s comment about his traps giving dead people a voice. Halloran has let people die, and it’s not the Jigsaw way for Logan to let that slide. Halloran’s head is torn to shreds by lasers, and Logan makes a dramatic exit.
Logan closes a big sliding door, as is Saw tradition, and the credits roll. But, although that door is quite literally closed, a more metaphorical one is being propped open. Writers Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg seem to be leaving their options open for a sequel, don’t they?
John Kramer is dead, because of course he is. You can’t have an autopsy on screen and then come back, not without sacrificing every ounce of realism in your franchise. But by introducing Matt Passmore as Logan Nelson, Jigsaw has presented a way for this franchise to continue without John Kramer.
There has been no official talk of a Jigsaw 2 just yet, but if this film makes a lot of money, don’t be surprised if an announcement arrives. Logan can be the new big bad, and he can use his audio editing skills to give Tobin Bell some more voice cameos in later instalments.
But do fans actually want to see that? A Jigsaw film about a different Jigsaw? We’ll have to wait and see. If the baton can successfully be handed to Logan, the games may not be over…