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Spoilers ahead for the February 28 episode of Gotham, called "Nothing's Shocking."
Last week's episode of Gotham seemingly saw the end of Jeremiah in the present timeline of Season 5, although it's never wise to count a Valeska out of getting back on his feet against all odds. He does seem very comatose for the moment after his dip in the glowing green vat at Ace Chemicals, but that doesn't mean his actions are no longer having consequences that may have doomed Gotham City. His chemicals that wound up in the river are still there, and they're already doing damage.
Well, technically the chemicals in the river already did some damage last week, as it was enough of a catastrophe that it indefinitely put off Gotham's reunification with the mainland. This week, the damage may be more severe and permanent than the bridges simply not being rebuilt, as Bruce and Alfred discovered.
Bruce and Alfred met a young woman who had been living in a shelter with her husband and others, located above tunnels adjacent to the river, but people started disappearing. When her husband, Hank, tried to track them down, he disappeared himself. She begged Bruce and Alfred to help her. Instead of calling the overloaded Jim -- who was dealing with a creepy villainess known as Jane Doe -- they decided to check out the tunnels themselves.
The tunnels were dark, damp, and dingy, so it was already creepy for Bruce and Alfred just walking around down there. Naturally, Bruce's flashlight wound up on the fritz. When it really got scary was when they found Hank... and somebody else. The somebody else was a huge man who was clearly crazed, attacking Hank as well as Bruce and Alfred. He didn't seem to be feeling any pain, and it took both men to take him down.
Alfred spent most of the episode dealing with guilt for being hypnotized by The Mad Hatter as part of Jeremiah's scheme, and he believed it was his fault that he wasn't able to fight back and stop Wayne Manor from being destroyed. After he and Bruce got the crazed man down, Alfred began beating him over and over again with his flashlight, and Bruce had to pull him off. For all of his violence, the man was not in his right mind, and all signs point toward him not being able to recover. Irreparable damage was done to his brain.
The river was still glowing green during "Nothing's Shocking," so it's probably safe to say that this story isn't done just yet on Gotham. There are of course immediate threats to the city beyond the glowing body of water, although both Jane Doe and The Ventriloquist bit the dust in their debut episodes. Still, Eduardo is still out there, presumably being turned into Bane. He'll cause a lot of damage once he becomes Bane, and Walker certainly is not down for the count.
The most active threats at the moment may be the bad guys who are still up and about. Ed and Penguin are occupied with their submarine, and Barbara seems determined to live on the straight and narrow to avoid being arrested if she ever makes it back to civilization rather than running a bar in No Man's Land forever. They might want to rethink the submarine plan now that the water can do permanent damage, and Babs with her bun in the over in particular probably wants to stay away.
Then again, maybe everybody speculating that she's carrying the future Batgirl is wrong, and her baby will be James Gordon Jr. As comics fans will likely remember, Jim Jr. was psychotic in a way neither of his parents were, and Barbara being exposed to Jeremiah's toxic chemicals could explain what went wrong with him.
The contaminated river may be a problem that can be solved eventually, but the damage could be permanent. Could vestiges of the contaminated water lead to so many of Batman's future baddies being so bonkers? Will Ivy have some issues with the pollution if it impacts plant life as well as human life? Thanks to the river, is it no longer possible for Gotham to return to what it was?
Granted, Gotham as it was wasn't exactly a shining city of law-abiding citizens and lacking in crime, but the city as it was could be doomed. The rebirth of the city could be what persuades Bruce that fighting the bad guys of Gotham City will take vigilantism rather than law and order of the Jim Gordon variety. It would make sense if Jeremiah was connected to something that pushes Bruce to take up the cape and the cowl.
At this point, part of me wonders if Bruce himself could be affected by the contaminated water. I'm not saying that he should be driven mad to the point of Jeremiah or the man in the tunnels, but a normal young man doesn't really jump from "I should fight crime as a vigilante" to "I should dress as a bat!" without something big happening. Could it be connected to Jeremiah's polluted water?
Of course, if the polluted water does continue to impact Gotham City, we can bet that a certain one of the good guys will blame himself at least a bit. The reason the river is glowing green on Gotham at the moment is that Jim drove a truck full of Jeremiah's chemical rockets into the water to prevent them from going off as deadly fireworks. He didn't really have any other option with the time he had available in the "Ace Chemicals" episode, but good guys tend to blame themselves.
All of this said, it's still possible that the chemicals will simply dilute by the time the next episode kicks off. There aren't too many episodes left and a lot needs to happen. There may not be time for Gotham to pack in a whole new subplot about Jeremiah's chemicals continuing to mess things up in Gotham City. Then again, Gotham excels at packing a lot into not a lot of time and balancing its vast ensemble. Anything can really happen, and Jeremiah is coming back in some form or other.