Spoiler warning for anyone who isn't yet caught up with Gotham's fifth and final season.
For years, Gotham has given fans an abundance of Joker-esque storylines and character beats, but mostly without the ability to directly reference the comic character’s mythos. That’s definitely meant to change in the upcoming episode “Ace Chemicals,” whose iconic title location is central to many versions of The Joker’s origins. The episode's trailer teases potentially big transitions on the way, and Cameron Monaghan talked excitedly with CinemaBlend at TCA about Gotham being able to break ground with such a Joker-tastic setting.
That was definitely wild. They showed a little bit in the season trailer today. You know, it's called Ace Chemicals. We kind of knew where that was going. They're not making soup and those big vats. [laughs] So yeah, that was wild. That was one of those things where you get there and it's like, 'All right, we're pulling something directly from the pages of the comics right now, so let's try to do this right.' That was really cool. It was challenging.
Ace Chemicals was first introduced in 1951 (Detective Comics #168), in the Bill Finger storyline that first gave Joker his Red Hood backstory. Gotham has already run through a couple of Red Hood appearances that weren't tied to Cameron Monaghan's Valeska brothers, so it's clear the Fox drama won't be rekindling that arc with Jeremiah.
While we have yet to learn whether or not "Ace Chemicals" will be the inciting location for Jeremiah's transcendent rise to super-villainy, we can safely assume that the episode will truly set the stage for him to become Bruce Wayne's worst nightmare and lifelong nemesis.
Both "Pena Dura" and "13 Stitches" ended with Jeremiah setting the dust-ridden Wayne Manor up for a truly horrific trip down memory lane. First, he seemed to have either resurrected Thomas and Wayne Martha, or found a way to clone them, and then he kidnapped Alfred. Here, Cameron Monaghan talks about Jeremiah burrowing his way into Bruce's psyche, Joker-style.
We kind of saw in ["Pena Dura"] the tease of Jeremiah working with a doctor to do something nefarious. I think that we know Jeremiah well enough to know that his focus is Bruce, and we know Jeremiah well enough to know that he will do anything to push Bruce's buttons. It will hit them where it hurts. He did that with Selena and he's doing it again, maybe in a way that could even be worse. He's bringing up Bruce's history and his past, and he's doing it to provoke him and to bring Bruce to his way of thinking. He's just so singularly focused on Bruce, and his plan is what we see develop over the course of these next episodes. And it's fun. It's a good one.
The extended "Chemical Green" trailer, seen lower, makes it more abundantly clear that Jeremiah is going to somehow make Bruce re-experience the day his parents were killed. And it doesn't look like this will merely be a hallucinatory experience similar to what Bruce went through in the past. Jeremiah wants things to be all too real.
While it isn't clear yet how the episode will make the leap from the Waynes' final hours to the Ace Chemicals plant – nor how Jeremiah apparently becomes Zorro at one point – it IS clear that big things are going to go down inside the facility. Not only with Jeremiah and Bruce, but also the Mad Hatter, who'll be making his rhyme-time return. His presence does make one curious just what is being concocted in those giant vats.
What fans really want to know, though, is what would happen if someone fell down into that green gunk. If either Bruce or Jeremiah does take an acid bath, the fall will likely be a relief after the extended brawl that will go down. Here, Cameron Monaghan tells a story relaying how physically strenuous it was filming parts of that sequence.
I think I talked about this in another interview, but there's a big fight between David and I, and it was just extremely hot in the place that we were shooting. It was hot and wet, and the ceiling was dripping, and there's steam and everything. We were wearing these suits, and all my carefully applied makeup that takes hours to put on was melting off of my face, and David was sweating bullets. We were fighting and doing this take over and over, and I just saw him turn white, and he went and he puked. And I gotta give him credit, because he was so overheated and he just felt terrible, but he continued to do it. [laughs] It was just like, 'All right, we're back. We're going to keep doing it.'' So that was fun. It was an interesting experience.
Batman-related films and TV shows don't ever really get into the awkward details of Bruce Wayne having to function while being completely worn out and overheated. Even a billionaire vigilante can fall victim to an upset stomach after long brawls with killer sadists.
I also got to chat with Gotham's David Mazouz during TCA, and the actor was absolutely just as enthusiastic about "Ace Chemicals" as Cameron Monaghan was. Here, Mazouz further explains the purpose behind Jeremiah's most appallingly sinister act yet.
Their relationship is really going to come to a climax in that episode, and it's going to be this kind of final force between them – and Alfred, of course – at the center of it. I think Jeremiah's philosophy is very Joker-inspired in that he feels a deep connection towards Bruce, and he firmly believes that they're destined to be best friends. And once he sees that Bruce isn't into that, he's like, 'All right, well, I'm gonna create this relationship. I'm going to create a connection between us in a different way, through hate.’ And he does.
If there's anyone out there who can personify their hate in a way that goes farther than Jeremiah's tactics, that's not the person I want as a future employer. (Or as a lover, or an adopted parent, or most other things.)
For everyone who needs an extra Bat-flavored tease about where "Ace Chemicals" will take these characters, here's what else David Mazouz had to say about the episode.
What ends up happening is so perfectly canonical, and also a perfect way to close Bruce and Jeremiah from Gotham's storylines. There's one shot in particular that kind of ends it all, just a couple of seconds. And that moment is kind of the crux of the 'teasing Batman and Joker' aspect of the show that we've had sprinkled throughout the seasons. This is the climax of all of it, and I think it could not be more perfect.
What does that mean for Bruce and Jeremiah as far as Gotham's final episodes go? Will this indeed pave the way for whatever new character Cameron Monaghan is playing post-Jeremiah? What does it mean for anyone else in Gotham? For viewers, it means another wild and trippy ride from the most bizarrely nuanced drama currently airing, which is all we could hope for. Check out the green-band trailer below.
Gotham will continue zipping through its final season every Thursday night on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET, with "Ace Chemicals" airing on February 21.