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Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 17 of Gotham Season 4, called "One of My Three Soups."
Gotham has spent four seasons introducing some of the most iconic Batman villains with some decidedly bizarre twists, and the closest that the show has come to showcasing the Joker is Jerome Valeska. Thanks to his fabulously unhinged laugh, his damaged face, his penchant for showmanship, and his ability to rally the worst of the worst to his various schemes, Cameron Monaghan seemed to be playing one of the best versions of the Joker ever adapted to screen. That said, members of the cast have stated that Jerome isn't the Joker, and the show has always played him as the bad guy who will one day inspire the Clown Prince of Crime. The latest episode has us wondering if Gotham may reveal Jerome as the Joker after all.
Jerome's crazy laugh and face that has been rearranged on more than one occasion always brought the Joker to mind, to the point he would probably rank as one of the best Jokers ever if Gotham ever revealed that he truly is the Joker. In "One of My Three Soups," Gotham went even further to give Jerome the Joker aesthetic we've come to expect. After escaping from Arkham, Jerome paid a visit to his uncle, who runs a diner. As it turns out, crazy kinda runs in Jerome's family, as he fondly recalled the time his uncle forced his hand into a pot of boiling soup. He also quickly learned that his uncle wasn't done doing damage with boiling soup, as a goon held Jerome immobile while his dear uncle dumped a bowl of boiling soup on his head.
Like, this was a genuinely BOILING pot of soup. Jerome's uncle had it in the microwave at such a high temperature for so long that it actually shorted out the microwave, and Jerome -- who has seemed impervious to pain at points -- was clearly in pain. The boiling liquid seemed to contort his features even more than they were already contorted, which is certainly fitting for the Joker. Besides, couldn't we argue that dumping boiling soup on Jerome was Gotham's adaptation of the Red Hood falling into a vat of chemicals in The Killing Joke's popular version of the Joker's origin story?
Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but it's never wise to rule anything out when it comes to Gotham. Stranger things have happened than boiling soup on Jerome equating to acid on the Red Hood from The Killing Joke. We ARE on our third Ivy, after all. Jerome also ended up in a suit and tie that made him look even more like the person Batman fans have come to expect out of our Jokers. He undoubtedly has more mayhem in store in Season 4. Perhaps Cameron Monaghan and David Mazouz were simply going to great lengths to keep the secret that Jerome is truly the Joker from getting out.
Another way Gotham may have teased Jerome as the real Joker in "One of My Three Soups" actually has more to do with young Bruce Wayne than Jerome himself. After their previous encounters with each other, Bruce has decided that it's his responsibility to track down Jerome after his escape, and he's already made some very questionable decisions in his focus on his goal. Selina called him out for his egotism for being determined to catch Jerome himself rather than work with the GCPD, and she told him that he wasn't fun to be around when he was so focused. This is undoubtedly an early hint of what Bruce will be like when battling the Joker; couldn't that future Joker be Jerome?
Gotham is going hard on building Bruce into Batman in Season 4, and it stands to reason that the show would also go hard on establishing Bruce's nemesis. The Joker would be more impactful as a villain if he's one that has been around since very early on rather than a madman who just suddenly dropped into the mix in Season 4. Bruce's origin story as Batman could happen at the same time as Jerome's as the Joker! Of course, the trailer for the next episode indicates that Jerome will be leading the other villains of Gotham on a mission to try and find the Joker, which could point toward Gotham definitively settling the question of the Joker's identity sooner rather than later. Either way, we'll get some answers in the next episode. Take a look at what's to come:
Who's to say that the hunt for the Joker next week won't be a wild goose chase orchestrated by Jerome himself? Tune in to Fox on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of Gotham. For other viewing options, check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule. For the shows that have already had their fates decided for the next TV season, swing by our rundown of renewals and cancellations.