The "Return" of John Kramer
The big question running through Jigsaw is who exactly the killer is. The answer is complicated.
Let's start with the farm. After the first three victims have been incapacitated via various skin-crawling (and tearing) means, Anna and Ryan are drugged and find themselves chained up in a labratory where the killer manipulating everything is revealed to be none other than... John Kramer. Yes, the original Jigsaw is the one behind the spinning blades, acid syringes, silo torture and elaborate razor spiral.
Anna recognizes him, although not from his crimes but rather his previous life; we learn he lived next door to her when first diagnosed with cancer, during which time he overheard the child's death. This is the second link between Kramer and the victims - his nephew was sold the faulty bike by Mitch - and while it isn't stated, it seems likely the others were also connected to him somehow: Ryan's drunken car crash and Carly's asthamtic robbery victim probably involved related family members or similar. That's important because it shows something a little different about Jigsaw's targets this time - something essential.
After all, from the moment Bell turns up, as captivating as ever in his signature role, the audience is left asking how exactly he survived the events of Saw III (in which his cancer was removed but his throat slit by a power-saw). The answer is, well, he didn't.
Jigsaw Is Set In Two Timelines A Decade Apart
It's revealed at the end of the film that the entire farm sequence was actually Jigsaw's very first game, taking place before any of the previous movies; at this point he's just decided to seek retribution for his cancer diagnosis, trying to make others appreciate life (just don't question why the traps are so much more elaborate). That's why he went for flawed people he knew, and why - in contrast to most victims who figure out they're in a Jigsaw game from his publicity - Anna and co. have no idea what's going on and must slowly figure out his rules; they are the first. The twist also provides a few more pieces of how Kramer became Jigsaw; the farm was owned by Kramer's wife, a key presence in the later original films killed in The Final Chapter, and among its livestock were pigs, providing some explanation for his affinity with the animal.
For eagle-eyed viewers, there were actually quite a few clues things weren't perfectly lining up that initially seemed like timeline flubs; characters were seemingly not ageing in the ten year gap between Kramer's death and the "present", and the bodies that turned up counting down the murders had different wounds compared to what we saw at the farm.
Long-time Saw fans won't be too surprised by this either. The timeline switcheroo was the previous big twist in Saw II, and in the films set after his death Jigsaw appeared in flashbacks that often played with audience perception. Still, none went quite this big, and going back to his baby steps does fit well into the film's exploration of Kramer's legacy.
- Jigsaw/Saw 8 release date: Oct 27, 2017