Gotham‘s fifth and final season picks up after Gotham was cut off from the outside world when Ra’s al Ghul and the Joker-like Jeremiah Valeska destroyed every bridge leading into the city using bombs that Bruce Wayne unwittingly funded. Jeremiah still thinks he and Bruce are friends, but the Season 5 trailer teased a “vile, vicious, nightmare-fuel horror” of an ending (or a beginning?) to that one-sided friendship at the ACE Chemicals factory in episode seven.
It’s no coincidence it’s taking place at ACE Chemicals. Even though the show has been restricted to leaving the name “Joker” and certain elements of the character to be used in the movies only, the actor who plays the Joker-like character on the TV side of things now says they’ve been granted more liberties, and he spoke about his character’s coming “transformation” in a long interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Monaghan admitted he never expected to come back after his guest role in the first season, let alone continue coming back throughout the series. “Every time I came back I was told I was going to be killed off at the end of that arc,” he told EW. He went on to describe Jeremiah and hinted at a third character he’s playing by the end of the series. “[Jeremiah’s] this eccentric, flamboyant, arrogant character. But the character I most enjoyed playing is the one in the final episode that we haven’t seen yet.” No, it isn’t a third Valeska brother, he clarified, “Not triplets! No secret other twin. we’re seeing a very linear story arc with Jeremiah.”
We already know the final episode will jump ten years into the future, with Batman and his rogues gallery more fleshed out (literally fleshed out, in the soon-to-be-heavier Penguin’s case). Does this mean the ACE Chemicals standoff half-way through the season may eventually lead to The Joker by the end of the series? When asked about corporate legal issues preventing them from calling his character The Joker, Monaghan gave an update:
“I will say we’ve been given certain liberties in this final season that we haven’t been given before that’s going to make itself pretty apparent as you watch it. All I’ll say is when you have an episode that’s a full-on Batman episode running around in the future, you’re going to have characters that you’ll expect to see. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say at this point that it’s 10 years in the future — that’s been talked about openly by the producers and showrunners — I don’t want to say exactly what my role in that is, but it was kick ass. It’s one of the coolest opportunities I’ve ever had.”
He went on to talk about why he thinks it makes sense that the character hadn’t yet given himself a pseudonym earlier in the series, and he also made it clear that Jeremiah’s transformation isn’t going to be for the better: “He doesn’t see himself as bad or evil or insane so there’s no ability to redeem somebody who doesn’t want to be redeemed.”
Monaghan also teased his upcoming Gotham guest appearances on Instagram last week, sharing a photo of Jeremiah with green-tinted hair, a hair color that was supposed to be off-limits and supports the claim Warner/DC is giving them more leeway with Joker references. (To be fair, it could be an affect achieved with green set lighting, not hair dye, so perhaps they were just skirting rules that are still in place.) Monaghan captioned the photo, “Just a few more weeks until Gotham is re-introduced to this creep. Who watched the premiere episode?”
So we probably won’t see his character for a couple more weeks. The next episode focuses on Penguin clashing with Gordon, and Selina Kyle — who has recovered from the spinal injury Jeremiah gave her and now has some cat-like abilities thanks to a supernatural assist from Poison Ivy — will be trying to hunt down Jeremiah for revenge. She even fights with the apparent Harley Quinn, Jeremiah’s bodyguard-turned-girlfriend, Ecco (Francesca Root-Dodson), in a scene 23 seconds into the promo below, and you might also spot that the room has a large stained glass window of Jeremiah. (Gee, I wonder why Selina knew to look inside that building.)
And for what it’s worth, we aren’t just getting glimpses at Catwoman’s developing powers and a potential Joker and Harley Quinn in these promos. An end-credits teaser earlier this month included an apparent Batman sighting:
Gotham airs Thursdays at 8pm EST/PST (7pm CST) on FOX.