Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) has caused his chaos once again on Gotham and now returns to the shadows as the Court of Owls prepares to take over as the central villain for the second half of the season.
However, before Jerome bit the dust again he caused some ripples that will become permanent fixtures in the Gotham foundation of Batman. The psycho killer came back to life thanks to Hugo Strange's (BD Wong) reanimation process and once again set his sights on the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). The face-to-face combat lead to a crucial moment in which Bruce physically gained the upper hand and had the perfect opportunity to kill Jerome, but ultimately decided not to cross that line. The altercation would go on to inspire Bruce to set Batman's founding principle of no killing, which cements Jerome's status as a legendary villain within the Gotham universe.
TVGuide.com talked to Monaghan about playing a Jerome returned from the dead, setting that Batman foundation and what he'd like to see in the future now that no one has to stay dead in the Gotham universe anymore.
TVGuide.com: What was important to be different about Jerome now that he's been brought back from the dead?
Cameron Monaghan: He's seen death. He's seen the other side of something and it's changed him for the absolute worst. We wanted him to come back darker and even more demented than he was before, and a little more mature in his ideology of what he wants. We see him come into his own as this terrible, terrible man that he is. What he wants is for reality to be reflective of his own inner chaos, violence and turmoil. He's making all the world his stage and he's growing this huge return, resurrection party for the city of Gotham. We wanted him to feel like a guy that was capable of doing that in violence, both inspiring as a showman and brutal enough that he'd be able to pull that off. We really try to push the twisted performance aspect of the character.
How would you describe the legacy that Jerome wants to leave behind for his followers?Monaghan: Jerome sees himself as this messiah figure. He's got this cult following him and he really sees himself as this guy who is freeing the people of Gotham. He believes that freedom is embracing the chaos of it all because he thinks the only logical response to everything awful in the world is to embrace the illogical and to give in to the nihilism...None of it has any meaning to him. Nothing is sacred. Nothing deserves to be saved. He has the absolute worst possible human psychology that you could have to the point where he doesn't even feel human anymore. He feels like something that is truly monstrous. His outward appearance this time around is kind of a reflection of the inner monster that's within him. He's an awful guy. There's no way around it. He's a truly, truly awful man.
It was really cool how the movement of his face and the removal of it mirrored that. Why was that an important part of his resurrection?
Monaghan: His face is removable because everyone has this darkness within themselves. Everyone can wear this face if they wanted to. Also, he's untrue and his philosophy is ultimately not reality. It's not reality because we can't embrace the nihilism. We can't embrace the chaos. He's a false prophet. He's not showing the reality. He's not showing the truth and his truth is that even his face is not real. Even his face is false. That's one way you can interpret that stuff, but I think everyone is going to attach their own meaning and I don't think there is necessarily one interpretation. I'm hesitant to give my full answer because I want people to attach their own meaning to it.
Jerome and Bruce get into a huge fight in the episode and towards the end Jerome seems to be rooting for Bruce to kill him. We see why that's a big moment for Bruce later, but what did that mean for Jerome?
Monaghan: Jerome and Bruce are this fun, twisted reflection of each other. In many ways, they are similar and in many ways they are completely opposite. They are both kind of born from tragic circumstances. Obviously, Bruce has lost his parents and Jerome killed his parents. That's a bit different, but both were born in wretched circumstances for kids to be, or they had terrible things happen to them. When that happens to Jerome, he gained the ideology that nothing has any meaning. It's all chaos and it's all awful and he gained a distaste for heroism or anything that could be perceived as goodness. He doesn't believe that it can exist. Bruce went the other way. Bruce went the other way and decided there has to be goodness and we have try and aspire to be good.
Jerome sees within Bruce the tragedy. He sees this goodness that came from the tragedy and he hates it. He despises it. His whole goal is to show Bruce the light. [Jerome] wants to show him what he believes is reality. We have these great face offs that are not only great physical in confrontation but also are confrontations of ideology. They're arguments in philosophy. They're arguments in what it means to be a person and to exist in the world. We have these epic ideas represented in something as small scale as a fist fight between the two of them. When we see [Jerome] egging [Bruce] on to kill him, that's Jerome trying to get him to embrace the darkness and really give away of the remaining morality that he has in himself. He wants Bruce to become as evil and as dark as [Jerome] has become for himself.
Jerome fails in that task though and inadvertently becomes the basis for Bruce -- and eventually Batman's -- founding principle that he won't kill. What was it like for you to have a part in creating that foundation for Gotham's version of Batman?
Monaghan: It's absolutely incredible. I am a huge fan of Batman. As a kid watching it, there are certain things that I'm not going to latch onto as much as when I've gotten older. What's great about Batman in comics in general is [he] is a reflection of the reader. [He] matures with you and there's stuff for you when you're younger. There's stuff for you when you're in your teens and feeling disconnected from the world or like an outsider. There's stuff when you become an adult. One of my favorite things coming of age reading comics was these ideologies and these philosophies of these characters. Seeing those on the page really represented in amazing ways some of my favorite Batman comics like The Killing Joke or The Dark Knight Returns. Seeing that on the page and being able to touch that at all was such an amazing opportunity for me. I was profoundly affected by it. It's been such a great ride.
Do you think the ride is over though, or is there more to Jerome's story to tell?
Monaghan: I think there's more story to tell. I absolutely do. I would be interested to talk with the writers and see what their ideas are going forward from here. I like how we've been able to develop this character and transition him, and physically transform him as well. I would love to continue to be able to develop him and maybe even physically transform him even further. I don't know for sure, but I have some ideas. We'll see where that stuff leads us.
Would you want to see Jerome fully transformed into the Joker?
Monaghan: Maybe! Gotham is sort of its own canon. It's its own story in many ways, while still giving insight into the stories we know and love. Nothing is set in stone for this universe. We don't even know for sure if there is a Joker in this universe or if everyone is kind of a Joker and anyone can step into it. We're not sure. It's kind of seeing seeds of a lot of different ideas and possibilities. We don't know if there is a Joker in this universe or if he'll look traditionally like how we've known to perceive him. I know that initially that might be a stepping stone for fans because we're so set in our ideas and perceptions of who this character is. That gives us a really strange and unique opportunity with this story to subvert expectation and to not be constrained by everything that came before, but instead take this 76 years of history and turn it into something different.
Yes, I would like to see Jerome become the Joker. Of course I would. As a performer and an actor, that would give me such a great opportunities to be able to perform. At the same time, maybe they'll go a different way. I don't know for sure but I'm excited to see where it leads because I've been a fan of everything they've been doing involving the Joker mythos on the show. It's been a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what's next.
Gotham Season 3 returns Monday, April 24 at 8/7c on FOX.