The Jigsaw family of villains goes through a character drama worthy of at least a separate post or two over the course of the seven part series, and the end of each volume tries for a good, sturdy gut-punch to top off any lingering queasiness, with about an 80% success rate (even the so-so entries usually twist pretty well). Part II has my favorite of these, so here’s how it goes:
Jigsaw (the original Jigsaw, John Kramer), has his current group of victims locked in a house full of diluted nerve gas and a smorgasbord of traps containing doses of an antidote. Detective Matthews and his team track Jigsaw to his lair, where the “game” is playing on a set of monitors, to find that Matthews’ teenage son, Daniel, is one of the victims, and the others are ex-convicts Matthews planted evidence on over the course of his career.
Jigsaw swears that if Matthews will just sit with him and hear him out while the game timer runs down, he’ll find Daniel safe at the end, but no matter what the cops do, he won’t tell them where the house is. At least, not until near the end, when Matthews utterly loses it and beats up our terminal cancer-riddled evil mastermind, at which point he agrees, after a cryptically threatening grunt of “game over.”
Not a bad twist, but the real fun comes from the back and forth cutaways to the cops who stayed behind in the lair. While Matthews charges into the (eerily silent) house, his colleagues trace the feed playing on the monitors and hurry to back him up, only to find another, less blood-splattered empty house. Empty, that is, except for a VCR.
One of them presses the pause button, and a cop still watching from the lair voices the real twist, the shattered assumption more basic than the one about Amanda’s motives,