Gotham's Cameron Monaghan Says His Next Joker Transition Is More Realistically Horrifying

gotham ace chemicals jeremiah valeska fox
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of Gotham Season 5, called "Ace Chemicals."

Gotham has been such a wild show over its five seasons on the air that it's difficult to predict exactly what could be in store, and the most unpredictable characters of all have been those played by Cameron Monaghan. As the man behind both Valeska brothers and their various changes in personality, Monaghan has seen his characters go through plenty of Joker-esque transitions.

Well, Cameron Monaghan already revealed that he'll be transitioning into a third character before the final credits role, and he has now shared how the next version will be more realistically horrifying as he resembles The Joker more and more. Here's what he had to say to CinemaBlend's TV Editor Nick Venable at the recent TCA winter press tour:

I think that what we see is a little bit more faithful to what we're familiar with. I think that we've already gone somewhat absurd with the origin with, with the twin brother and the gas and all that stuff. I mean, a lot of that is not that absurd for comic books, and certainly not for The Joker. But I think what we wanted to do with this is pay tribute to a number of things from the comics that people may or may not be familiar with, but also to leave it somewhat grounded and to allow the character to be kind of horrifying in a bit more of a real-world way by the end. So that was nice too.

Gotham is many things, but few would describe it as "realistic" ever since perhaps the first few episodes. Judging by Cameron Monaghan's comments in combination with what went down in "Ace Chemicals," a somewhat grounded third character is a bit of a surprise. After all, Jeremiah wasn't looking at the top of his game by the end of the episode. That's no fault of his own, though. How many people would look fetching after falling into a vat of glowing green chemicals?

Admittedly, falling into the vat of green chemicals at Ace Chemicals was very much his fault. It was the result of a confrontation between Jeremiah and Bruce that was a long time coming, even before Jeremiah sprung his elaborate and psychotic trap for the future Batman. In a scene that was just about as exact an adaptation from a scene in the legendary Killing Joke origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime as possible, Jeremiah and Bruce fought on a catwalk in Ace Chemicals.

Bruce seemed to gain the upper hand on Jeremiah, which was no surprise. Sure, he's still a teenager a growth spurt or two away from being ready for the cape and the cowl, but he had plenty of motivation to want to beat the stuffing out of Jeremiah by the end of "Ace Chemicals." Jeremiah orchestrated a reenactment of the night Bruce's parents had been murdered in Crime Alley, complete with using the Mad Hatter to hypnotize a couple of Thomas and Martha Wayne lookalikes as well as Alfred.

Jeremiah proceeded to blow up Wayne Manor, lure Bruce to the theater where he'd spent his last evening with his parents, murder the Wayne lookalikes, and hold Jim and Lee at gunpoint, all to torture Bruce in the attempt to forge an unbreakable bond between them. Fortunately, Selina intervened in time to spare Jim and Lee the same fates as the Wayne lookalikes, but Bruce had still lost his childhood home and seen his beloved butler seriously injured in the escape. So, pretty mad at Jeremiah!

Still, Bruce held himself back enough that Jeremiah gained the upper hand, even as Bruce declared that Jeremiah was nothing to him. Alas for Jeremiah (but awesomely for fans who have watched Gotham build to this moment), the railing of the catwalk had been weakened by their throwdown, and it gave way underneath him, plunging him down into the vat of chemicals. Although he was fished out, it was not before his body was physically warped beyond recognition, and brain scans revealed that there was nothing left of Jeremiah in his mind.

Or so it seems at this point, anyway. Cameron Monaghan said this about his characters being killed off:

Yeah, I think he might like hold a record at this point for most deaths and rebirths. That was wild, man. It's very strange to watch yourself die that many times.

Cameron Monaghan's characters have a knack for returning from seemingly hopeless fates, and I'm guessing that Jeremiah will at least be somewhat back by the end of the series. Perhaps the "somewhat grounded" part of the next transition has to do with his physical transformation. He had to be irreparably burned by the chemicals, so however he's back, he can't look the same.

Honestly, the way "Ace Chemicals" went down adds points in favor of my theory about how Jeremiah can become THE Joker despite all the variables that could have ruled him out as Batman's future nemesis. After all, could Jeremiah really be both Bruce's nemesis and Batman's without connecting the two? My bet at this point is that the chemical bath only wiped Jeremiah's brain clean-ish.

Maybe the chemicals more warped his mind than wiped it. The specifics may be confused, and he may see his past as "multiple choice," just as The Joker did in The Killing Joke. Perhaps he'll feel the need to connect to somebody or something in Gotham but has no reason to focus on Bruce. When Batman emerges in a decade or so, he could be the mysterious figure Jeremiah -- now The Joker -- would naturally latch onto.

Jeremiah went to extraordinary lengths to make himself an essential part of Bruce Wayne by violence once Bruce refused to be his best friend; couldn't The Joker do the same when Batman emerges? Admittedly, there are still problems with this theory. Assuming Jeremiah still looks like he did after being dunked in the chemicals, why wouldn't Bruce recognize the cackling newcomer as Jeremiah rather than a mysterious baddie only to be known as The Joker?

We can only wait and see. The fifth and final season of Gotham airs new episodes on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. There's no saying when Jeremiah -- or what is left of him -- will be back, but another once-dead character will be back as a bad guy sooner rather than later.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).