When Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) was first introduced on Gotham as an unhinged young man, it was easy to see him as the show's prototype of The Joker. As the character further slid into gleeful insanity, it became even more clear. Upon his death and succession by twin brother Jeremiah, though, a new side of the Joker personality was born; the maniacally calm and deliberate madman, who also happens to be quite theatrical.
Now, with its final episodes, the Joker placeholder will evolve again, embracing a third aspect of the Clown Prince of Crime's psyche. "We all know the character that some people think he is, some people say he's not--that he's supposed to be a precursor to at the very least," executive producer John Stephens told GameSpot. "So, when you look at the Joker, and you break down elements of his personality, and you cleave off certain character traits. Some of those character traits we gave to Jerome. Some of those character traits we gave to Jeremiah. But, there were still some leftover character traits that we said, we haven't used these elements yet. Specifically to me, horror or terror. I feel like there are elements of the Joker, some iterations of him, which he's not just a clown prince of crime, but he's actually a nightmare. And I feel like... some of those remain to be explored."
After being dumped in a vat of chemicals at the Ace Chemicals plant by Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), it provides the perfect opportunity to explore this final side of Gotham's least favorite clown. Still, even in this final version of the character Monaghan plays, it doesn't mean he'll finally take on the name Joker.
Speaking during the show's final TCA press tour panel, Stephens played coy about whether or not the name would be used. "I feel like Cameron's character, in all the iterations of the characters that he played Jerome, Jeremiah, and the new character that no one has seen yet that he plays this season if he's not The Joker, then he's someone who does provide the origin story for the person who you're going to see later on," he explained.
As far as Monaghan is concerned, though, what he's doing is getting to play the Joker, albeit in a deconstructed manner. "I think that there's something really interesting about The Joker and reinvention. The idea that that's a character that's chameleonic," the actor said. "He changes depending on the situation. We've seen this character be reinvented so many different times across the show. so we've seen different permutations. And now, the final version of it is kind of it’s all crystallized into this final form, I would say. it's not even so much a new person as it is, I think, it's just the distilled version of what we've been doing for five years."
So just how scary will this next phase of the character be and how close to the Joker will it lean? With only 5 episodes of Gotham left, you're about to find out. Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox.