In Gotham's fateful "Ace Chemicals" episode, Jeremiah Valeska fell into a vat of toxic chemicals that burnt his skin and seemingly wiped the character's slate clean. When we last saw him, he was in a coma; alive, but off the game board for Gotham's next several episodes, as the series built toward the conclusion of its "No Man's Land" storyline.
However, actor Cameron Monaghan had already revealed that he would return in Gotham's series finale, an episode set a decade in the future where a full-blown Batman is dealing with Gotham City's criminal element. Though a series of leaked images giving away the surprise, after five years of buildup, Fox officially released a teaser video and image debuting the series' proper Joker -- and Gotham's take on the Clown Prince of Crime may very well be the most twisted and frightening version of the character we've ever experienced.
The Joker teaser shows us Jeremiah Valeska before and after his transformation into the ultimate Batman villain. What little we see shows that he will, as assumed, eventually wake from his coma. At first, he appears to be a drooling mess, but it won't be long before the character applies white make-up to his scarred skin, coloring what little hair he has left green and donning on the villain's trademark outfit. The result is a truly horrifying, almost demonic-looking Joker, the most nightmarish vision of Batman's greatest nemesis we've ever seen.
The scarred aspect actually brings a semblance of realism to this take on the Joker, given that falling down a vat of chemicals is bound to leave more than a mark. Instead, this gives a new monstrous dimension the character never had before. In the comic books, the closest we had to a frightening Joker on this level was when the character stapled his face back on his head during Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's New 52 Batman run.
But Gotham already covered that ground, when Jerome Valeska's face was cut off and stapled back on back in Season 3. Instead, Gotham has taken things even further. This isn't just a temporary change to the Joker's look. This is his final form -- and it couldn't be more unsettling.
Previous iterations of the Joker have depicted the character either as a goofy clown, like Jack Nicholson, or as a darker, more realistic criminal like Heath Ledger and Jared Leto's versions, while Joaquin Phoenix's upcoming Joker appears to be more of a theatrical clown than anything else. Gotham is not only mixing all of these takes together -- it appears to be twisting them into something far more frightening.
We've only seen a few seconds of Cameron Monaghan's Joker in action, but it's obvious his twisted nature is more than skin deep. It's not that he is unphased by a batarang through the hand, or how fascinated he seems to be with the prospect of facing the Batman. This version of the character's look truly reflects the dementia inside. This Joker appears to be a monster, inside and out -- this Joker is going to be no laughing matter.
Airing Thursdays 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, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth and Shane West as Bane.