Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Gotham” season two, episode three, titled “The Last Laugh.”
After months of Internet speculation, it looks like the joke’s on us. Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) might be dead, but his bloodthirsty legacy will live on, if the chilling final moments of this week’s “Gotham” are any indication.
After teasing Batman fans with the possibility that the unhinged teenager was the younger version of Dark Knight’s most iconic nemesis, The Joker, the Fox drama definitively laid that theory to rest by dispatching the murderous leader of the Maniax in a fittingly public fashion this week, in front of Gotham’s wealthiest residents as he attempted to murder Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). But it wasn’t one of our heroes that did the deed — Jerome’s jailbreaker, the villainous Theo Galavan (James Frain) stabbed him in the throat in order to make himself look like a savior in the eyes of Gotham’s elite, instead of the Machiavellian mastermind he apparently is.
That should’ve been the end of Jerome’s story, but “Gotham” was determined to have the last laugh, focusing on a number of other deranged young men across the city who seemed inspired by Jerome’s showmanship and maniacal cackle. From a twitchy drunk in a bar to a young boy with neglectful parents to a psychotic pair who decided to murder a homeless man before turning on each other, it would appear that there are plenty of potential candidates for Batman’s eventual archenemy still on the loose.
“Gotham” showrunner Bruno Heller recently told Nerdist that the show would provide “concrete answers to [Jerome’s] identity,” and the episode certainly made good on his promise: “That story is going to come to a huge and shocking resolution which will explain the whole Joker myth and how it began and how the Joker came to be.”
At San Diego Comic-Con, “Gotham’s” executive producers teased that in their pre-Batman world, The Joker is more of an ideology than one single person anyway, something that Monaghan confirmed to Zap2It: “It’s less of a he and more of an idea. It’s not about a man. It’s about the ideology of a man and what that represents and how it affects other people.”
But the fall of Jerome — even if it precipitates the rise of the real Joker — will also make way for new villains in “Gotham” season two; Heller teased two upcoming additions from the Batman canon: “Something we’re going to see this year is the underbelly of Wayne Enterprises, the Indian Hill bioengineering laboratory, the subterranean aspects of Wayne Enterprises,” he told Nerdist. “When we go there and see what they’re doing down there, we’re going to be introducing the great Dr. Hugo Strange and Mr. Freeze.”
As for Jerome, it looks like a certain prediction for his future will come true, one way or another: “You will be a curse upon Gotham. Children will wake from sleep screaming at the thought of you. Your legacy will be death and madness.”
“Gotham” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.