Spoilers ahead for Monday’s episode of Gotham. Proceed with caution.
Tonight’s episode of Gotham revealed a lot of things and offered some cool surprises. We finally know who killed Bruce’s parents two years ago and got to see the killer, Matches Malone, up close and personal when Bruce confronted him. But, it’s how Bruce got to the man who would, unintentionally, lead him down the road to becoming Batman that was really interesting.
In an effort to locate Matches, Bruce and Alfred head to a sort of underground fight club for low-level thugs, where Alfred fights his ass off against a guy named Cupcake to help Bruce get the info out of the large, face tattooed baddie. When Alfred wins, the guy gives up the location of someone who can easily tell them how to find Matches. And that, folks, is when tonight’s Gotham really gets interesting.
See, Mr. Cupcake tells the duo to locate someone named Jeri (Lori Petty) down at Celestial Gardens to find Matches. When Bruce later heads to the club (alone and against Alfred’s wishes, obviously), what we find there is a veritable fan convention dedicated to Jerome (the show's proto-Joker) and the lesser of the Maniax. The freaky club is filled with wild, punk-like fashions and people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley…or a well-lit alley, actually. As the band plays their moody, fast-paced rock, video and images of the Maniax, and super crazy and cunning Jerome, flash up on a wall behind them. Jeri is leading the band, and she has quite a way with makeup. Her face is powered pale white, her eyes are decorated with red shadow and wacky black eyebrows, and (most tellingly) her lips are lined with black pencil that extends out to mid-cheek on both sides. You know, like a famous supervillain’s screwed up smile. Jeri also has a little bit of a Harley Quinn style to her bustier batshit outfit, which could easily turn into someone’s costume.
Here’s what’s brilliant about this. Earlier in the season, when we were first introduced to Jerome, all we could think of is how perfect he was as a character that we assumed would have to turn into Batman’s most notorious and relentless villain, the Joker. Even when we got word from the powers that be behind the scenes at Gotham, we figured they were just trying to keep us away from spoilers; but, Jerome is gone. And as much as we loved to hate him, he had to go. Why? Because his death led to a certain type of disenfranchised citizen, and many criminals in Gotham, holding his reign of terror, and subsequent demise, up as the pinnacle of evil-doing on a wide-spread, easily recognizable scale.
Here, in creepy as hell Celestial Gardens, is a whole club full of people who are well on their way to worshipping Jerome and all the murderous madness he stood for. In a city like Gotham, where a wide variety of serious, career criminals run rampant, it’s got to be fun for them to see someone break out of the pack and actually terrorize the whole city. Having Jeri lead the charge toward the next stage of Joker fandom was an awesome idea. Things have gone one step further with Jeri; she’s added a layer of costumed goodness and villain worship to the legend that will eventually lead to the Joker.
So, Jerome’s gone and the good folks at Celestial Gardens like to party while inundated by his rare brand of crazy. It probably won’t be much longer until we get some genuine copycats. I think the best thing Gotham could do is continue to throw Joker cult hints at us. Let us guess at when the real Clown Prince of Crime will appear. There’s nothing like having a show keep us on our toes.