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The Ending Of Saw IV Explained

The image of a door slamming shut along with the words "Game over!" is familiar to any fan of the "Saw" franchise. First implemented by John Kramer, aka Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) in the film that launched James Wan and Leigh Whannell's careers, the now-iconic moment went on to become a feature in subsequent films in the series. And at the conclusion of "Saw III," it seemed that there would indeed be an end to the games. In an effort to save himself from terminal cancer, Kramer and his apprentice Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) put Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) and her husband Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) in an elaborate trap meant to both prolong Kramer's life and teach the couple some signature Jigsaw lessons. Though Lynn puts in a solid effort, Jeff does not pass his test, which results in the deaths of his wife, Amanda, and Kramer.

Though this should have been the end of Jigsaw, the opening of "Saw IV" makes it clear that isn't the case. Via a hidden cassette encased in wax found during his own autopsy, Kramer promises that his death is not the end and that the games will continue. The death of Detective Kerry (Dina Meyer) in a trap that resembles Jigsaw's work, but was not designed to allow its victim to escape, causes FBI agents Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Perez (Athena Karkanis) to hunt down a new Jigsaw killer whose identity is only revealed in the final moments of the film.

Jigsaw becomes more sympathetic than ever

Every good villain has a tragic backstory and John Kramer is no different. His fascinating philosophy about "cherishing your life" is fully explored after Strahm questions Kramer's ex, Jill (Betsy Russell). Though not involved in Kramer's crimes, she has insight into the darkness that consumed her ex-husband after they both suffered a tragic loss. A flashback reveals that while working at her clinic one night, Jill encountered Cecil (Billy Otis), a patient who was looking for drugs. When he tried to force his way in, he accidentally slammed the door on Jill, which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. This was just the start of Kramer's dark path. His relationship with Jill deteriorated because of the loss and after surviving an attempt on his life, he comes to realize that life is precious. Let the games begin.

Kramer's first victim is Cecil, who he clearly identifies as someone in need of rehabilitation. But Cecil's addiction runs deep and he does not survive the trap, unable to change his ways. This only further convinces Kramer that people need to be taught that life is a gift. Kramer does not actually want people to die. In fact, he wishes for people to survive his tests and go on to better themselves with the lives that they are given. Though his methods are highly suspect, his philosophy is an interesting one. This point of view brings the audience even closer to the villain known as Jigsaw, further establishing him as a character thought-provoking enough to build a franchise around.

Rigg's games come to an end

While the FBI scrambles to find out who is behind Detective Kerry's death, the Jigsaw apprentice chooses a new target. Lieutenant Rigg (Lyriq Bent) was on the SWAT team that often responded to Jigsaw's crimes, including the discovery of Kerry's body, and he becomes wrapped up in the quest to find Detectives Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) and Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), who have been kidnapped. While following a set of clues, he finally finds himself at the meatpacking plant where the detectives are being held. But as with most things related to Jigsaw, all is not as it seems.

Though Rigg comes to empathize with Jigsaw's perspective, he never learns his lesson. Jigsaw's test for Rigg was meant to teach him to wait and choose his moments, rather than trying to rush in and save the day without first considering the situation. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Rigg does just that when he arrives at the plant. There are deadly consequences for his haste, as to successfully complete Jigaw's test, Rigg was supposed to wait 90 minutes to rescue the detectives. Had he done so, the traps would have been unlocked and the officers would have been free to go. 

Instead, Rigg bursts into the room before the timer is up. Matthews attempts to stop Rigg by shooting him through the door to the room, but Rigg still enters, an act that triggers the trap and takes Matthews' life. After six months of imprisonment, Matthews finally dies at the hand of Jigsaw in his final game. Rigg expires from the gunshot, but lives long enough to realize that he has made a terrible mistake. As he lies dying from Matthews' gunshot wound, he sees the real architect behind these twisted games.

Jigsaw's secret apprentice is revealed

For the past three films, Kramer's main apprentice has been Amanda Young. The victim of the infamous reverse bear trap seen in the original "Saw," Amanda is one of Jigsaw's success stories. Not only does she recover from addiction but she also helps Kramer in setting up games herself as part of a surrogate father-daughter relationship. But Amanda's concerns that she may be supplanted are not unfounded. Kramer's other apprentice is none other than Detective Hoffman. Almost immediately after they found her body, Strahm and Perez determined that Kerry's death may be Jigsaw related. However, they also deduced that Kramer and Amanda couldn't have been the only ones involved in this particular trap, as it was too intricate for the pair to pull off alone.

Hoffman orchestrated his own capture during Rigg's test and in the final moments of the film, he reveals that he was able to leave his trap at any time. Hoffman emerges as an even more reprehensible villain because unlike his mentor Kramer, he mostly sets his sights on punishment. As evidenced by the inescapable trap he helped put Detective Kerry in, he does not abide by the Jigsaw code. He is the last one standing in the end, but there is another surprise in store.

The prologue is actually the epilogue

It wouldn't be a film in the "Saw" franchise without a final twist. The ending sequences of most films in the series bring all the elements together, explaining exactly what viewers missed. And while Hoffman was an interesting reveal and necessary to keep the franchise going in the wake of Kramer's death, there is another big shock for viewers. 

While Rigg is going through his investigation of traps, agents Strahm and Perez are investigating on their own. After Jill's interrogation, Strahm determines that the victims are in the Gideon Meatpacking Plant. But when he gets there, he finds more than he bargained for. His investigation takes him to a sealed room where he finds Kramer and Amanda's bodies. This is the same meatpacking plant where the Denlon family test was held and not by any mere coincidence. The events of "Saw III" and "Saw IV" were, in fact, taking place at the same time. 

The film ends just as it began: with Kramer's autopsy and the ominous tape playing. This time, however, the audience understands more than they did at the beginning of the film. Kramer promises Hoffman that he has yet to be tested. But now viewers understand that this isn't some random warning. Kramer knows that Hoffman is straying from the original ethos of the Jigsaw tests. Though the original Jigsaw may be dead, his works will still be carried out, whether Hoffman wants it to or not.