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Spoilers ahead for the "Ace Chemicals" episode of Gotham Season 5.
Gotham has gone through a lot of changes over the years, and it's almost inconceivable that the bonkers series of Season 5 started out as a gritty crime drama. One thing that has been consistent all along is Bruce's slow development into somebody who would come to the conclusion that he should dress like a bat to fight crime. With the series winding down, Bruce is getting closer and closer to becoming Batman, and the showdown between Bruce and Jeremiah in "Ace Chemicals" set up the transformation more than ever.
David Mazouz chatted with CinemaBlend at the TCA press tour, and he explained some of how the battle between Bruce and Jeremiah set the stage for Batman, and what he had to say points toward a thrilling final batch of episodes before the final credits roll.
The Aftermath Of "Ace Chemicals"
Everything will be different for Bruce after "Ace Chemicals." Jeremiah didn't die at the end of the episode, but he did wind up falling into a vat of chemicals in a scene that was practically straight out of the pages of the Killing Joke comic. Since he's Jeremiah, of course he survived. Still, he was left comatose in the hospital, his face warped beyond recognition and with no recorded brain activity. For all intents and purposes, Jeremiah is gone. (For now.)
Unfortunately for Bruce, that's not all that's gone. Wayne Manor was blown up by Jeremiah in the first stage of his plan to forge an unbreakable bond with Bruce, Alfred was injured in the escape, and the river was polluted by Jeremiah's toxin. That last twist ruined Gotham's chances of reunification with the mainland, so Bruce won't be able to escape the darkness of his city in its no man's land state just yet.
When asked what's in store for Bruce between "Ace Chemicals" and the finale, David Mazouz said this:
I think the biggest thing that Bruce is dealing with in that time period is – I mean obviously there's a lot – but within those episodes, we know that Bane's coming, and there's another arch villain that's going to come. They will be really trying to bring Gotham to its knees, and Bruce is going to feel very guilty about that. I think the theme with Bruce's storyline this whole season is his guilt. At the beginning of the season, he feels guilty about what happened to Selina because of him. I think he feels guilty in the kind of a rush that he feels when he's doing his vigilante things. How it feels like very time he tries to help, every time he tries to do good, it only ends up hurting the people he's trying to save. Eventually, that's gonna bite him back, and he's going to kind of have to make a change in his lifestyle and do something pretty drastic that we'll see. He becomes very active and he does something kind of crazy.
Another arch villain is on the way? On top of Bane? We do already know that the Ventriloquist is on the way despite a big death seemingly ruling him out, but it's difficult to say if he'll be big enough a bad to qualify as an "arch villain." Only time will tell on that front. Based on what's in store for one of the people closest to Bruce in the whole world, the last thing the poor kid needs is another villain.
Apparently, Bruce is going to have to face the consequences of however he tries to deal with what's coming his way, and that will involve a change in his lifestyle. Since his transformation into the man who will become Batman is speeding up, it's not hard to believe that he'll do something crazy! Well-adjusted people don't dress like bats to battle bad guys, after all.
Bruce Needs Some Toys
"Ace Chemicals" saw yet another gigantic loss for Bruce Wayne thanks to Jeremiah. Part of Jeremiah's plan to bond himself to Bruce involved a dinner at Wayne Manor with Thomas and Martha Wayne lookalikes, complete with a hypnotized Alfred helping out as butler. Unfortunately, although Bruce and Alfred would survive the encounter at Wayne Manor, Wayne Manor itself would not. Jeremiah armed explosives throughout the manor and then activated them, leaving Bruce only just enough time to nab Alfred and run for it.
Wayne Manor is gone, which presumably means that Bruce's proto-Batcave has been destroyed. The structure beneath the manor's foundation may still be there, but Bruce is going to need some new toys. As much as the destruction of his childhood home and remaining connections to his parents is a tragedy, it does provide him with an opportunity to beef up his next Batcave. He can make it into whatever he wants, and that certainly sets up his future as the Dark Knight. What's Batman without a Batcave?
Bruce probably also lost his proto-Batmobile. At least the proto-Bat Signal is probably okay! A big question is how Bruce could go about amassing the toys he needs to be Batman and perhaps building his new Batcave. The obvious answer is via Lucius Fox. David Mazouz teased some of what to expect from Lucius in the rest of Season 5:
Lucius is going to be very integral in saving [Gotham City]. We're going to see, and we've kinda been teasing it already, but in the [remaining] episodes, we're going to see Bruce and Lucius kind of continue this teamwork thing that they have, where Lucius gives him gadgets and Bruce uses them in a really badass way. We're only going to continue that, and like I said before, there's going to be this massive destruction of the city and Lucius is going to be integral in [both] helping save the city and the hero plot that ultimately renders the good guys victorious.
It sounds like Lucius will have a lot to do with helping the city as a whole, but that doesn't mean he won't have time to give some gadgets to Bruce. The Batcave may have to wait; Bruce getting toys will not. Maybe the flash-forward to Bruce as Batman will at least show a Batcave in all its completed glory.
Enter The Joker?
Thanks to "Ace Chemicals," the odds seem better than ever that Jeremiah will really and truly become Gotham's version of the Clown Prince of Crime and not just a kinda sorta Joker-ish character. As much as Jeremiah's dip in the vat of chemicals seems designed to deliver a distinctly Killing Joke-esque twist for his character, it also represents a change for Bruce. After all, what is Batman without his crazy villains?
Here's how David Mazouz describes what the "Ace Chemicals" climax means for Bruce:
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 kind '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.
Fans will have to wait until the end of the series to really understand how this climax impacts the grand scheme of Gotham; at least David Mazouz is confident about it! Only 12 episodes were ordered for Season 5, so there aren't that many episodes left, and a lot still needs to happen.
Eduardo Dorrance hasn't gotten his full transformation into Bane just yet, Ed and Barbara are teaming up with Penguin to build a submarine to take them safely through the mined waters of the river separating Gotham from the mainland, and that little complication of the bun in Barbara's oven. Selina's journey undoubtedly isn't over, Walker is still around, Professor Strange can be doing just about anything to anybody he gets his hands on, and now the river is polluted! And what about that big kiss between Jim and Lee?
Tune in to Fox on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of Gotham. For some viewing options on the other nights of the week, swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule. The craziest DC TV show other than Gotham (and with Legends of Tomorrow on hiatus) has to be Doom Patrol, which recently premiered on DC Universe.