Fox’s Batman origin show has been flirting with Joker’s presence for four seasons now. There was a stand-up comedian appearing in the club of a mob boss, a gang taking the mantle of the Red Hood (a disguise used by the proto-Joker of the comics), and a circus boy with homicidal tendencies. The boy, Jerome, moved on to be the nexus of Joker speculation thanks to a killer performance by Cameron Monaghan. That is, until his character died.
After his death, audiences were led to believe that Jerome’s very public crime spree inspired the disenfranchised on Gotham to double-down on the crazy with glimpses of laughing murderers on the streets. The following season we find a cult has been formed with a leader who obtained Jerome’s frozen body and promised to bring Jerome back from the dead. The cult leader tired to do what Hugo Strange did for others, but Jerome did not return to life. The leader appeased his followers by cutting off Jerome’s face and wearing it. That was fine for him until Jerome’s delayed resurrection finally took hold and he turned to kill the leader and staple his face back on.
Now we had Jerome alive again with a reattached face drawn into a gruesome smile, a visual taken directly from contemporary Batman comics. He continued to check Joker boxes by developing a vendetta against the young Bruce Wayne, doing time in Arkham where he becomes king of the most insane of Gotham’s underworld, and dressing very Jokery. He quotes a seminal Joker work, Alan Moore’s ‘A Killing Joke’, when he says it only takes one bad day to go crazy and practically asks Gotham “why so serious?” He develops Joker toxin with Scarecrow, for God’s sake. Jerome is on the fast track to Jokerdom. That is, until he died…again.
‘Gotham’ is a twisted soap opera, after all. Before dying a second time, Jerome rediscovered and tormented a twin brother, Jeremiah. There’s not much to the character, only being a couple episodes old at the time of writing, but Jerome brings out a murderous instinct within him with exposure to a modified Joker toxin and, there we have it– the real Joker is born.
The show trades a character with history and relationships for a new one with none, played by the same actor who will likely play him in a similar way. If you don’t watch the show you are probably thinking What. The. Hell. If I read this in a vacuum, I’d say it was bad writing for pointless reasons. Considering the cast and crew have been open about Jerome not becoming Joker, the twin brother fake-out wasn’t even much of a reveal. Still… ‘Gotham’ makes it entertaining. Either that, or it’s making viewers as crazy as it’s residents.
The next episode of ‘Gotham’ airs Thursday at 8.