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The final season of Gotham is in full swing, and the next episode is poised to deliver a dose of Jeremiah that many fans have been waiting for. Jeremiah's story seemed done for good earlier in the season after Selina went stab-happy on him, but the last surviving Valeska lived on, and he has a dastardly plan for Bruce that will make him look more Joker-esque than ever.
A new extended trailer for the next episode -- called "Ace Chemicals" -- includes a bunch of Joker references. Take a look, and scroll down for some of the references that really jumped out!
This is far from the first time that Gotham has had me at least partially convinced that one of the Valeskas was going to become the Joker, but the show has really never gone this hard on references to the Clown Prince of Crime.
As much as the folks behind the scenes have always stated that Jeremiah (and Jerome before him) is more of a proto-Joker than the legendary supervillain himself, would Gotham really have packed so much Joker into a special extended trailer for an episode called "Ace Chemicals" if the intention isn't to go full Joker with Jeremiah?
Well, maybe, but as Gotham star Ben McKenzie recently told CinemaBlend, the final season is when they can "just throw it all against the wall and see what sticks." Why not go full Joker at this point? A big time jump is in the not-too-distant future, so Jeremiah's story as it is now is going to end anyway.
If you're still unconvinced, read on for some of the Joker references that really give the impression (to me, at least) that Gotham could finally transform Jeremiah into the future Batman's nemesis.
Unsurprisingly considering its title, the next episode will visit the Ace Chemicals factory. For those unfamiliar with DC Comics lore surrounding the Joker, the shot of Ace Chemicals' sign glowing green in the darkness might have seemed creepy, but not particularly significant. For those who know the Joker's story from The Killing Joke, the sign is a big deal. In The Killing Joke, Ace Chemicals is the site of an incident that led to a failed comedian-turned-reluctant thief becoming the Joker after a showdown with a young Batman.
Jeremiah On The Edge
In The Killing Joke -- which technically only presents the Ace Chemicals version of events as one of multiple choices for the Joker's true history -- the future villain falls off of a catwalk and into a vat of chemicals that turns his hair green, his face white, and his mind mad. Jeremiah already has those three issues, but the shot of him leaning against a not particularly sturdy-looking catwalk railing gives the impression that he could be in for a chemical dip.
There's also what Jeremiah says to Bruce as they struggle on the catwalk:
You need me! I'm the answer to your life's question! Without me, you're just a joke without a punchline.
Come on! He has to be the Joker, right?
Remember that insanity gas that Jerome arranged for his twin brother to be sprayed with? Well, that or a variation of it seems to be coming back in "Ace Chemicals," with missiles of green gas firing into the air like fireworks. The trailer doesn't show exactly how the people are affected by the gas, but it can't do anything good to them. In many comics and adaptations, Joker Venom is the Joker's preferred weapon, and the green gas certainly implies that Jeremiah is using something very much like it.
One Bad Day, Revisited
One of the most Joker-esque moments of the trailer isn't actually new footage, but rather something that came from Jeremiah's breakdown in Season 4. In arguably the most direct Killing Joke reference to that point, Jerome told his brother that all it takes is "one bad day to reduce the sanest man to lunacy." The Joker had the same idea in The Killing Joke when he tried to torment Jim Gordon and chat with Batman.
The decision to include the "one bad day" line from Season 4 in the trailer for "Ace Chemicals" provides another nod to an iconic Joker origin story. "One bad day" + a vat of chemicals has to = Joker, right?
The Last Laugh
This particular reference might actually be more of a coincidence than a deliberate play on words, but it's still worth noting. The trailer includes a card advising viewers that the preview is approved for "all audiences ready for the last laugh." Given Jeremiah's penchant for crazed laughter and what the green gas might do to victims, "the last laugh" is a fitting inclusion for the footage.
That said, DC Comics published an arc called "Joker's Last Laugh" back in 2001-2002 that featured the Joker using his Joker Venom on other inmates, and chaos ensued. Could Gotham be loosely taking on "Joker's Last Laugh" before the end? Or was the choice of words a coincidence? Either way, I'm taking it as a Joker-esque choice. Then, of course, there's this:
I don't want to say that I'll feel cheated if Gotham holds back from going full Joker with Jeremiah Valeska, but the show has spent five seasons slowly, carefully, and insanely building what could be the most original origin story of the iconic DC supervillain to date. If Jeremiah does wind up as the Clown Prince of Crime, Gotham would be responsible for telling a Joker story that ranks among the best and most unique in the history of the character.
Besides, if Gotham ends with Bruce as Batman, surely it could end with Jeremiah as the Joker. Who could have guessed way back when the first Valeska brother turns up in Season 1 that a Joker origin story could make so much sense? Still, whether or not Jeremiah ever earns the title of "Joker" on Gotham, he'll go down as one of the series' best and most unnerving villains, if not the best. Kudos to Cameron Monaghan!
Tune in to Fox on Thursday, February 21 at 8 p.m. ET to catch the big episode. If you're still in the market for some viewing options on the other nights of the week, check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.