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Amanda Young is a fictional character appearing in the Saw franchise. She was portrayed by Shawnee Smith. At first a minor character in Saw, she was revealed to be John Kramer's apprentice in Saw II and the majority of Saw III was centered around her character. She was featured in archive footage in Saw IV and Saw V, and returned for flashback scenes in Saw VI. Amanda and John Kramer are the only characters in the series to be featured in every movie.
Amanda Young's early life was never established in the films, although both writer Leigh Whannell and Shawnee Smith have worked on and discussed it. On the commentary for the Saw III: Director's Cut DVD, Whannell stated that as a child, Amanda had been neglected and abused by her father, which lead to her being filled with rage as an adult. A deleted line from the original script for Saw III has Amanda telling John that her father used to lock her in the dark for hours.
Because of her childhood, Amanda had never properly learned to deal with stress and emotional pain, and thus turned to self injury as a way of dealing with her problems. While in prison, her abusive tendencies were replaced with heroin. However, after giving up heroin after surviving the Reverse Beartrap, she returned to cutting, burning, and other forms of self injury. Because of her frail emotional state and mental instability, she is quick to anger, and often acts purely on impulse or emotion (such as trying to kill Eric Matthews, and later, Lynn Denlon).
A scene in Saw III where Amanda is shown cutting her inside thigh was not in the original script; there was only a brief scene that hinted at Amanda self injuring, in which Amanda is shown squeezing a razor blade (which was later replaced by a scene of Amanda squeezing a leather cutter). Shawnee Smith had been reading the book A Bright Red Scream prior to filming, and she firmly believed that it was necessary to show Amanda's self injuring tendencies (for character depth), and thus insisted that the scene be filmed and put into the movie. Still, some of the scene was cut, including a shot of Amanda using the cloth body of a doll on her bed to soak up the blood from her wounds.
Due to her behavior, Amanda suffers from borderline personality disorder, as well Stockholm Syndrome in that she bonded to and felt affection for someone who had kidnapped her. As an adult, Amanda turned to drug use and self-mutilation. She was later framed by corrupt cop Eric Matthews and arrested, at which point her situation worsened.
Appearances in the films
Amanda's first appearance was as a minor character in the 2004 film Saw. She was the only known survivor of the Jigsaw Killer (John Kramer). Her trap is depicted in a flashback while it is described to the police and Dr. Lawrence Gordon: she wakes up with a device on her head, set to rip her jaws open. The key to the device is in the stomach of her seemingly dead cellmate, Donnie Greco, who was actually heavily sedated; she kills him and frees herself mere moments before the device goes off and springs open. In the original script, Donnie Greco was written to be Amanda's drug dealer.
It is revealed in Saw II that Amanda started using heroin in jail. She was sentenced to prison after being framed by Detective Eric Matthews for a crime she did not commit. She appears in most of the film as one of the subjects Jigsaw traps in the Nerve Gas House, along with several other people who Eric had framed (although far from innocent) for crimes they did not commit, as well as Eric's son, Daniel.
It is revealed that Amanda is working for John, seeing him as a father figure and agreeing to become his apprentice and continue on his work after he has passed away.
Amanda claims that her experience in the first film ultimately saved her life, and this is what caused her to join John.
She survives the nerve gas house, saved from the violent victim Xavier Chavez by Daniel, and upon the arrival of Eric, she abducts him as her first "test subject," and rescues John from his custody.
Saw III specified that Amanda had been working with John since the time of the first film, that she is the kidnapper of one of the film's protagonists, Adam Stanheight, and that shortly after Adam failed his test and was left to rot, she gave Adam a mercy killing out of guilt to end his suffering. Flashbacks in Saw III also clarified that Matthews had escaped from his trap mere minutes after being left for dead by Amanda, Matthews then engaged into a vicious fight with Amanda for the whereabouts of his son, Amanda succeeded in defeating him, and Matthews was then left for dead. As Amanda walked away, Matthews verbally abused her, while also saying that she's "not Jigsaw." and that she's nothing. In the original script draft, Amanda was written to kill Matthews by jumping on top of him and stabbing him in the neck mutiple times with a knife, but this was ultimately dropped because the producers wanted to bring Donnie Whalberg's character back for Saw IV.
Amanda would go on to make two traps by herself, though unlike John's in which the subject had a chance of surviving if they followed his rules, Amanda's were inescapable. In the case of Troy, the door to his room was sealed shut, so he wouldn't have been able to get out when the bombs detonated, even if he escaped his trap. In the case of Allison Kerry, she successfully completed her trap, but it was designed to activate although Allison had unlocked the padlock at the front of the metal contraption attached to her ribcage. Distraught, a now dying John decided to give Amanda one last chance. As he lay on his deathbed, John ordered Amanda to kidnap surgeon Lynn Denlon, in order to keep him alive until another subject, Jeff Denlon, completed his own test. During this time, Amanda grew increasingly agitated upon seeing John being operated on and was hostile towards Lynn; especially when he told Lynn that he "loved" her, when in fact he was delirious and thought he was talking to his ex-wife, Jill Tuck, something Amanda did not know. Later scenes revealed that Amanda, in the stress of her situation, had resumed her self-mutilation. Amanda was told by John to read a letter, which contents remain unknown to both of them that was left for her. Upon reading it's contents, Amanda broke down and cried. When Amanda announced that Jeff had finished his last game, John ordered Amanda to let Lynn go. Amanda refused, saying that Lynn hadn't learned anything and didn't deserve to go free. John pleaded with Amanda to let her go, and that Lynn held Amanda's life in her hands. Amanda ignored him and shot Lynn. At this point, John revealed to Amanda that Jeff and Lynn had been husband and wife, and by shooting her, she had ruined "four lives". Upon seeing his wife shot, Jeff shot Amanda in the neck, fatally wounding her. As Amanda bled to death, a tearful John told her that she was being tested all along; tested to see if she could keep Lynn alive. He explained that by making her traps unwinnable, her subjects were merely victims, and she wasn't testing anyone's will to live, thus defeating John's original purpose. As she bled to death, John told her that he wanted her to succeed, but she couldn't.
During Saw IV, Amanda's ability to pick up Allison Kerry's unconscious body into her trap near the beginning of the previous movie is questioned by the FBI, leading them to suspect that there may be a second Jigsaw apprentice. It is unknown how the FBI knew that Amanda was in fact an accomplice to John at the time. It is most likely that Mark Hoffman had previously revealed it to the departments to cover up the fact that he was an apprentice as well.
It is later shown that the events of Saw III and Saw IV occurred concurrently, indicating that Amanda was still alive at the time of film's events. Her blood-covered corpse is eventually found by FBI Agent Peter Strahm in the makeshift operating room at the end of the film, shortly after her death. It is later revealed that John's second apprentice, Mark Hoffman, wrote the upsetting letter to Amanda in the previous movie. Shawnee Smith did not return to film any scenes in the fourth film and her character only appeared throughout the film through the use of archive footage from previous installments.
Amanda reappeared in Saw V, but yet again through the use of archive sound and footage. In Saw V, Mark Hoffman questioned in a flashback, why Amanda would be needed to be involved in the nerve gas house trap in Saw II. Amanda is briefly seen is this flashback, lying seemingly unconscious on the ground as John and Mark set up the game. In another flashback, in the operating room seen in Saw III, Mark questioned John as to why he was letting his emotional attachment to Amanda get in the way of his perception of whether or not she was truly worthy to continue on his legacy. Mark also predicted that Amanda would fail John. Mark left the room through a secret exit merely seconds before Amanda entered the room along with Lynn.
In Saw VI, a flashback showed that Amanda, desperate for drugs, sent Cecil Adams to Jill Tuck's recovery clinic to steal some for her. She consequently caused the miscarriage of John's son, Gideon Kramer. It was also shown that following Amanda's survival of her test in the first film, John showed Amanda to Jill to prove to Jill that his methods of rehabilitation was the only one that worked. It is also hinted that Amanda was once a patient at Jill's clinic and that Jill had given up on her. Amanda told Jill that John's methods had helped her. Jill believed her and ended up becoming something of an accomplice to Jigsaw herself.
Amanda appeared in a flashback with John and Mark as they set up Timothy Young's trap in Saw III. It was shown that Amanda and Mark, although both apprentices, had a very competitive relationship and tense rivalry with each other. Amanda openly expressed doubt in Mark's abilities to set up mechanices of their devices properly, remarking that he was only ever really useful for "heavy lifting." Mark in turn openly expressed dislike for her, saying he was the only one who truly cherishes his life. Amanda also questioned whether Mark should be tested, reflecting upon the fact that she had already passed a test. Amanda's close emotional attachment and care for John was further displayed. Amanda appeared awkward and uncomfortable when she and John later ran into Jill as she exited the room. It was also confirmed that the masked figure who kidnapped Lynn Denlon in Saw III was Amanda.
Another flashback showed that Hoffman had plotted to sabotage Amanda's final test in Saw III. Mark, knowing of Amanda's involvement in Jill's miscarriage, blackmailed Amanda into killing Lynn through the letter he left her. In the letter, he told Amanda that he would inform John of Amanda's hand in the incident.
In another flashback, it is revealed that during the events of Saw III, Amanda visited Corbett Denlon in her trap and told her not to trust the person would be saving her that night(Mark Hoffman). This heavily implies that after Mark Hoffman rescued Corbett, she informed FBI Agent Lindsey Perez and FBI Agent Dan Erickson of what Amanda told her, which undoubtfully forwarded their suspicion of Hoffman.
In Saw 3D, she is briefly seen in a flashback, from Saw II, with Daniel Matthews at the very end of the film in the bathroom escaping fellow prisoner and test subject Xavier Chavez.
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