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Spoilers ahead for the March 5 episode of Gotham, "Mandatory Brunch Meeting."
Jerome Valeska is one of the most iconic villains in the history of Gotham, and that's saying something for a show that has found ways to introduce a whole lot of classic Batman bad guys in not a whole lot of time. His maniacal laugh alone cements him as one of the most unforgettable villains, and his arcs are some of the most highly-anticipated of each season. For a long time, it was difficult to imagine a Gotham without Jerome waiting in the wings to come back and wreak havoc. Unfortunately, the time has totally come for Jerome to die, and all because the show is finally getting moving on introducing the Joker.
The Joker was always bound to turn up on Gotham at some point. If Gotham could introduce future Batman baddies like Penguin, Joker, and Poison Ivy, surely the Joker would turn up as well! Up until very recently, however, Jerome Valeska was the closest thing we had to a Joker, and the theory of Jerome as the Joker had been debunked many times. A trailer for the next batch of episodes in Season 4 revealed the Joker would be coming into play, and Bruce Wayne actor David Mazouz has stated that the Joker is coming soon. Jerome is no longer going to be the Joker proxy on Gotham, which raises the question: does Gotham still need Jerome?
Well, Jerome and actor Cameron Monaghan are such incredible parts of the show that many fans would probably have been okay with Jerome on the scene as well as the Joker, whoever he turned out to be. I've been a huge fan of Jerome from the very beginning, and he would rank as one of my favorite Jokers of all time if he'd turned out to be the Clown Prince of Crime. The events of "Mandatory Brunch Meeting" are what arguably make Jerome's death the only way for Gotham to really kick off an effective Joker storyline, and killing him off wouldn't necessarily have to mean getting rid of Cameron Monaghan.
The fact of the matter is that Jerome is just too similar to a Joker character to coexist with the actual Joker. Gotham has turned Jerome into such an iconic psychotically clownish character that any Joker might pale in comparison if the two are ever together, and the Joker is not a villain that should be second-rate on any Batman-esque show. The Joker needs to be the best crazy villain in town, and there's no beating Jerome at this point. Jerome has to go, and "Mandatory Brunch Meeting" introduced the perfect way to make it happen.
"Mandatory Brunch Meeting" introduced a character known as Xander Wilde, a.k.a. Jeremiah Valeska, a.k.a. Jerome's twin brother who is almost certainly going to turn out to be the Joker. In this dynamic, Jerome seems to be the evil twin while Jeremiah is the mostly innocent man who was driven from his family by his fear that his brother was going to kill him. Jerome didn't take well to Jeremiah splitting the scene after lying to his his mother that Jerome tried to kill him, and it was one of the inciting events that transformed Jerome from a kid with murderous impulses into a murderer who delights in spreading chaos. Oops?
Anyway, Jerome hunted down his brother, who was hunkered down in an underground labyrinth that he'd built for himself--which in itself might be a sign that there's something wrong with Jeremiah--to avoid Jerome. The brothers faced off down in the labyrinth, and crazypants Jerome quickly got the upper hand over his more timid twin, promising to kill him, but only after driving him (and the rest of Gotham City) mad. Gordon did manage to rescue Jeremiah and get him into GCPD custody for protection, although given how the GCPD's ranks are regularly thinned by the various villains of Gotham, that protection may not count for much, especially with how the episode ended.
The final moments revealed what Jerome had Scarecrow working on: a new kind of toxin that resulted in victims laughing hysterically, the corners of their mouths twisting up like Jerome's ghoulish smile, and then dying. It was bad enough that Jarvis Tetch looked shocked, Penguin looked grim, and Butch/Grundy looked uncertain.
Based on Jerome's comments to his brother, he intends to expose Jeremiah to this gas as his way of killing him. If Jeremiah is exposed and somehow manages to survive the gas, it could have been enough to alter him mentally and transform him into the Joker. Jerome did refer to only needing "one bad day" for a person to change forever, and exposure to the killer gas by his twin brother would certainly qualify as a bad day. Alternately, a second showdown between the brothers could end with the tables turned: Jeremiah on top with Jerome exposed to and killed by the gas. That would be one bad day as well, I'd say!
Laughing himself to death would be a fitting end for Jerome, and killing his brother could also be enough to break Jeremiah and turn him into the Joker. The Joker persona could be Jeremiah's way of dealing with his brother's death, especially if he had a hand in the death happening. Jeremiah already suggested that Jerome was born bad; maybe Jeremiah was as well, and all he needs is to have his mind broken before he goes full madman like his brother. Who knows? Maybe the bizarre connection between the brothers, even separated for a decade and a half, will be what will later forge the bizarre bond between Batman and the Joker. Without Jerome, perhaps Jeremiah will be on the lookout for a new equal/nemesis. Thus, the Clown Prince of Crime vs. the Caped Crusader.
Okay, that last part may be a bit of a stretch, but overall, Gotham really needs to kill off Jerome to make the perfect Joker origin story happen. Yes, it would be tragic to lose Jerome as a villain. Still, killing him off wouldn't necessarily mean an end to everything that made him so great. With Cameron Monaghan playing Jeremiah, he could continue putting that awesomely terrifying laugh to good use, and he'll finally get to claim the title of Joker that he so deserves. Without Jerome in the picture, Jeremiah would have no rival in the show as a Joker character. To make room on the show for the Joker, Jerome has to die.
Tune in to Fox on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what's in store for Jeremiah, Jerome, and the Legion of Horribles on Gotham. For more comic-based TV projects, check out our rundown of superhero TV dates. Our midseason TV premiere guide and summer TV premiere schedule can help you plan your viewing schedules now and in the coming weeks as well.