The death of Gotham's proto-Joker was one of the biggest "WTF?!" moments of Season 2. Jerome Valeska had never been confirmed as the man fated to become Batman's arch-nemesis, but that laugh of his meant that he was a pretty solid candidate. Luckily for those of us who wanted more of Jerome's brand of crazy in seasons to come, his signature cackle echoed out the crashed bus of Indian Hill experiments in the Season 2 finale cliffhanger, teasing the possibility that he's not quite as dead as we thought. Gotham executive producer Ken Woodruff had this to say about why we got the big Jerome clue in the finale:
[The laugh] was really to keep [the Joker] alive, to keep Jerome and that threat of the Joker alive. We wanted to make sure fans don't feel that we're completely done with [the mythology of the Joker] because are 100 percent, absolutely not. [But,] it's not going to be something we delve into right away at the top of the season.
Killing off Joker 1.0 early in Season 2 had been a bold move, but one that could have backfired in the long run. The Gotham team found the perfect actor to play Jerome when they cast young Cameron Monaghan, who can switch from unassuming to murderous in the blink of an eye. His Joker grin recalls Jack Nicholson in 1989's Batman, and his Joker laugh is as unnervingly maniacal as Heath Ledger's was in 2008's The Dark Knight. Gotham did so well with the first Joker that some of us may have needed the possibility of that particular Joker to really stay excited for Season 3.
Ken Woodruff's explanation to TVGuide about why we heard the Joker's laugh in the Season 2 cliffhanger expands on what executive producer John Stephens revealed earlier this month. The plan is to bring Jerome back, although it may be a while before we see Cameron Monaghan in the flesh. Jerome's mad legacy will be explored before the man himself shows up once more. By exploring what he meant to the mentally unstable circles of Gotham, Gotham can establish more possible Jokers that could out-crazy even Jerome. Folks were already seen killing and maiming thanks to his influence immediately after his death; it should be interesting to see how things have progressed in the months since, and if anyone that looks like Harley Quinn shows up.
Luckily, Gotham will have plenty going on in addition to the Joker plots in Season 3. The Mad Hatter will make his grand Gotham debut, an aged-up Ivy will premiere, classic comic character Vicki Vale is on board, and Bane himself could show up. No matter how long we have to wait before we get payoff on Jerome's laugh from the Season 2 cliffhanger, we should have plenty to keep us entertained with the show.
Gotham returns to Fox for Season 3 on Monday, September 19 at 8 p.m. ET. Check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else you'll be able to watch soon.