The ending of Jigsaw explained

While it might've seemed like the Saw series was "game over" when the seventh installment (which was actually called "The Final Chapter") came out in 2010, successful film franchises never really stay dead for long—and our latest example is the series revival Jigsaw.

With a little revisionist history, some new and confusing characters, and even more disgusting traps to behold, the eighth installment in the Saw franchise has an even more complex relationship to the original story. Let's walk through how exactly Jigsaw fits into the overall puzzle, but beware: continue and face the spoilers. Make your choice.

Jigsaw's still dead

One of the biggest questions facing the Saw revival was how the filmmakers would deal with the death of the franchise's primary antagonist, John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw. Unlike Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, Jigsaw never had any supernatural powers; he was just a wickedly brilliant guy with an axe to grind—and, eventually, a terminal case of cancer.

So imagine the audience's surprise when Kramer shows up in Jigsaw alive and well, putting together a grisly new series of traps. He hasn't magically risen from the grave, however—instead, it's a bit of tricky editing designed to keep the viewer guessing while the movie's central narrative arc is laid out. As it turns out, Jigsaw's "new" group trap, which serves as the plot point around which the new movie revolves, was really sprung years ago, and what initially seem to be current events actually took place long before the rest of Jigsaw's plot.

He's still settling some scores, though

Kramer lined up an eclectic bunch for the new/old group trap we see in Jigsaw. Two players are personally connected to him: one sold a shoddy bike to his nephew, knowing full well that it would fail him and cost his life, and another was his neighbor who did the unthinkable to quiet her newborn child and then let her husband go down for the crime. The other three are your ordinary ne'er-do-wells that have simply rubbed him wrong: a purse-snatcher who once deprived a woman of her life-saving inhaler, a con artist whose friends paid the ultimate price for his recklessness, and a guy who we never even meet before he's thrown into a wall of saws and left for gone by the rest.

We're eventually left with just two victims, one of whom very nearly escapes the whole thing. But then Jigsaw shows up and catches her, and the final two are treated to one of his traps that's survivable if they'll just play by his rules and listen to what he says (Kramer's god complex is still very much intact). Ultimately, they fail by jumping the gun, so to speak, and their bodies are never found … at least not by the authorities. However, there are only four casualties of the game, because there is one secret survivor.  

He's got a new pseudo-protege

We all know Jigsaw loves to train burgeoning lunatics, and since everyone but Dr. Gordon met their maker in the previous installments, it makes sense that he'd develop a new tag-along to help him set up all these sordid scenes. It turns out that the guy who appears to fall in the first round of the group trap is actually rescued by Kramer, in an uncharacteristic moment of mercy, and has since grown up to be a full-on Jigsaw copycat.

When we first meet Logan Nelson, he seems like a very sympathetic fellow. He'd been a POW in Iraq, lost his wife in a homicide that resulted in little to no justice for the perp involved, and he's now raising his sweet little daughter all by himself—when he's not working in the morgue, that is. But he's got a major secret.

While his Jigsaw-obsessed assistant Eleanor seems like the resident psycho of the group, he's the one who's gotten up close and personal with John. As it turns out, earlier in his career, he mislabeled John's brain scans and thus cost him some precious time that might've made a difference in his treatment and prognosis. But even though Jigsaw seeks retribution for his mistake, he changes his mind and decides he doesn't want the guy to bleed out over a simple workplace error—especially since he's unconscious during the game's initial instructions and doesn't stand a chance to get past the first blade room. So it's Logan who falls first in the throwback Jigsaw game, and, like the rest of the Stockholm Syndrome sufferers Jigsaw calls his lieutenants, falls right in line with his torture tactics.

Logan's got a game of his own

Since Logan is revealed to have been part of Jigsaw's five contestants in the game that informs the movie's arc, we have to wonder, where are all these new bodies coming from? After all, the corpses that are landing on his table now are certainly fresher than some 10-year-old cadavers, and yet they've suffered fates very similar to the ones we see in Jigsaw's games.

As it turns out, Logan has been staging a new version of the same game, with two fewer victims in play. The first, nicknamed "Buckethead" by the mortician, was a lowlife who'd been freed on account of Detective Halloran's shifty police work, and the other two were similarly condemnable criminals. The three bodies have been littered with clues, including John Kramer's blood sample under fingernails, and a bit of chemical residue that's extremely specific to Jill Tuck's old family farm. His assistant, Eleanor, picks up on those leads and begins to seem a little too familiar with Jigsaw's cases for Halloran's liking—which is when he starts to follow her.

Detective Keith Hunt, who's also working on the case and has some combat history with Logan, initially buys into Halloran's lead and finds out about Eleanor's workshop of horrors—handmade replicas of Jigsaw's traps that she just makes as a hobby, or so she says. But Logan is able to stave him off by suggesting that Halloran is the one that's conveniently close to all of the victims, planting puzzle pieces lifted from their skin for Hunt to find in Halloran's freezer, and miraculously finding Halloran's exact bullet type in the body of Edgar Munsen, whose involvement in all of this has deeper roots … 

Logan's got a long-held grudge

Given the timeline—that Logan survived a Jigsaw game 10 years before, then worked with him in some capacity that may or may not have involved making the reverse bear trap Amanda's later put into, and has since eked out a semi-normal life with his daughter—it's something of a mystery as to why he'd start re-creating Jigsaw's early unknown games now all of a sudden. The answer, it seems, is that revenge is a dish best served cold. Although he's advised by Jigsaw not to let a thirst for vengeance control his behaviors in the games, his new effort seems to be driven by the sole desire to punish Halloran for letting terrible people off easy.

The man who'd ended Logan's wife, it turns out, was Edgar Munsen, who's killed in the beginning for carrying a remote that he's hurriedly retrieved from a spot marked with X. He insists he's been told to choose whether he lives or five others die, and he's immediately gunned down by police (with one bullet lodged in his chest cavity by Logan, secretly snipering). He survives the wounds, but ends up in a coma. It doesn't take long before he's snatched from his hospital bed and winds up in John Kramer's coffin, which is exhumed to quell the public's fear about the possibility that Jigsaw is still alive.

There are other people in Halloran's history who've also been able to bribe their way to freedom, only to hurt more innocent people. One such victim was an eight-year-old who ended up on Logan's table, and, since that's roughly how old his own daughter is, it seems to have set him off on a mission to end Halloran and whomever else he kept out of prison before they can hurt anyone else.

A big showdown commences

There are only three bodies that emerge from Logan's games, which is two fewer than the casualties of Jigsaw's original. While Jigsaw's final two victims' bodies from the group trap have never been discovered, they're still tucked away in Jill's farmhouse, and that's exactly where Logan wants to play his own final game with Halloran to make a total of five players, including himself as the designated survivor again.

After Eleanor takes Logan to the desolate location based on her clues, Halloran tails the two and seems to want to take them in. He's quickly overtaken by Logan, who advises the clueless Eleanor to make a break for it and escape; after a scuffle, Logan disappears and Halloran is rendered unconscious, only to wake up in a neck trap face to face with Logan himself, also apparently trapped. The voiceover (dubbed from old Jigsaw tapes) suggests that it's Jigsaw who's running this "confess your crimes"-style trap, where the punishment is a series of super-lasers that can slice through a human head.

And at first, it looks like Logan falls victim. Once Halloran confesses to having cost innocent people their lives, Logan re-awakens, full-on Jigsaw circa the first Saw-style, and reveals himself to be the orchestrator of this trap, with Halloran's confession committed to tape. Much like Detective Hoffman, Logan hasn't made a game Halloran can win here. He blames this man for the demise of his wife and so many others, and he decides to make mulch of his head with that laser trap as a result. Halloran's only choice here is whether or not to scream.

Eleanor is the alibi

The relevance of Eleanor is circuitous at best. At first, she seems to be a perfect distraction for investigators, as even the story of her hiring by Logan is a little curious—who'd turn down a better job to work in this dump? There are even moments where it seems like she and Logan might be a romantic item, and he certainly doesn't seem scared away by her fascination with the Jigsaw murders.

But as Logan indicates to Halloran, she's nothing more than a pawn meant to provide him an alibi and support his story that Halloran is the one responsible for the body count. After all, the last thing she sees is Logan disarming Halloran, who's been pegged as the big bad by the police thanks to Logan's convincing cover-up work. Logan's going to have some serious explaining to do as to why Halloran's head winds up looking like an octopus by the end of this thing, but at least she can attest to him having been the aggressor who tailed them and picked a fight.

Is there room for another round?

Although Eleanor is painted as a peon who's merely served her boss' coverup purposes here, the future is definitely with her, if the studio decides to continue the Saw revival. Logan only seems to want vengeance against Halloran, while Eleanor seems like the type who could be weird enough to fit the bill of a Jigsaw emulator.

She has no family to speak of, she's obviously very skilled at building terror traps, and whaddya know, she's made pals with someone who's learned from the source himself, even if she may not know it yet. Meanwhile, Logan's got more to lose right now, particularly since his child would be parentless without him. His turn as Jigsaw 2.0 might be fast and furious, but it's hard to imagine him carrying this any further—unless Eleanor becomes the new Amanda and talks him into it.