When Gotham first premiered five years ago, the series didn't want to give us a definitive origin story for the most iconic Batman villain, the Joker. Instead, the producers informed viewers that they would imply a "multiple choice" aspect for the character's debut, introducing fans to various potential Jokers. The pilot featured an appearance by a failed comedian, a kid from the circus named Jerome had a haunting laugh and the Red Hood Gang was first formed.
In the comic books, the Red Hood Gang has a close connection to the Joker. While the character doesn't have a definitive origin in the source material, attempts to tell the character’s debut story, such as Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Zero Year, have often featured similar beats. A criminal wearing a red mask would clash with the Batman at ACE Chemicals, and the ensuing battle would result in him falling into vat of chemicals that would bleach his skin. Thus, the Joker was born.
Gotham has changed throughout its five seasons, and now we are closer than ever to getting the real Joker with Cameron Monaghan’s Jeremiah Valeska. But could the Red Hood Gang somehow have a role to play in Jeremiah’s final transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime?
In the Season 1 episode "Red Hood," we were first introduced to the Red Hood Gang as a team of robbers whose leader put on a red hood to set himself apart from the rest. Somehow, certain members of the gang started to believe that the red hood was lucky, and it wasn't long before they started killing each other over it. By the end of the episode, this iteration of the team was no more, but the idea was that the Red Hood would live on, almost in an eerie, mystical sense. This being Gotham City, the Red Hood cloth remained, and somebody else would put it on... eventually.
It was that idea that led us to believe that somehow, further down the line, Gotham could introduce the real Joker under this red hood. However, since then, the saga of twin brothers Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska has only grown more prominent. As it currently stands in the series' fifth season, Jeremiah has the pale skin, the purple suit, the green hair, the mania and even his own Harley Quinn, but he’s still not 100 percent the Joker. He may be as close as we can get to Batman’s ultimate villain for the time being, but it appears there is one final twist to come.
After all, Monaghan himself teased that he would be playing a mysterious third character in the series finale. Plus, it's already been revealed that an upcoming episode will feature a fateful confrontation between Bruce Wayne and Jeremiah at ACE Chemicals. The Joker is almost here, but not quite. We may not know what the final stepping stone to the villain's debut will be, but we can't help but wonder if somehow the Red Hood Gang could make a return for this final stretch.
After all, in the Batman mythos, Joker and the Red Hood Gang go hand in hand. What would have been the point of introducing the gang back in Season 1 if not to tie them back to the Joker? Hopefully, Gotham didn't actually forget about the Red Hood Gang and it's all part of the series' plan. After all, writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo's Batman: Zero Year is already serving as inspiration for Gotham's final season when it comes to the city's dire predicament. Why stop there when the series could also mine the Joker's origin in the comic story? Why stop there when we are so close to the end?
Right now, it seems like Jeremiah Valeska has a clear plan in mind to torment Bruce Wayne, one that involves people who were surgically altered to look just like his parents. The only thing we know is that this confrontation will lead to ACE Chemicals, but how? Could Jeremiah employ the Red Hood Gang for the next part of his master plan? We certainly hope so.
Returning Thursday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth.