In only three episodes, Gotham has already proved that all the speculation in the world can't predict what's actually in store this season. In the last few minutes of the third episode of Gotham Season 2, Jerome was killed by Theo Galavan, and even though it seemed there had to be a last-minute resurrection, the show committed to its decision and killed off the character. And yes, the body was visible — there was even a final, chilling shot of Jerome in the morgue, still grinning widely, just like the Joker. But even though he resembled Batman's most famous adversary until the end, his untimely death means Jerome can't possibly be the young version of the villain for, you know, obvious reasons. In that case, who is the Joker on Gotham?
Jerome's death gives Gotham the opportunity to do another Joker origin story, and means someone else out there in the city is going to eventually become the green-haired villain we all know and love. One of the final scenes of "Rise of the Villains: The Last Laugh" was a montage of a series of young men in various settings, from a pair of teens in an ally to a young boy in his living room. Not much more was visible than their mouths as they laughed hysterically after seeing Jerome on TV.
Those shots seem to have been chosen specifically to evoke similar scenes of Jerome laughing from the last few episodes:
The whole thing was made even creepier by the deep, gravelly voiceover of Jerome's now dead fortune teller father, predicting how he would influence Gotham. Essentially, by killing Gotham City's police commissioner and deputy mayor live on television, Jerome will serve as the inspiration to the actual Joker, who's still languishing in obscurity for now. Someday, he will emerge, after being shaped by the former circus performer's sense of theatricality and thirst for violence.
Even existing villains were inspired by Jerome — there were two scenes where both Penguin and Galavan mused that they wanted to more distinctive laughs, like his. Making Batman's Joker a copycat criminal isn't something that's been done before, but it does make sense for the show in hindsight.
Most of the villainous characters who came in contact with Jerome seemed to be impressed by his villainous persona, so if Gotham eventually introduces a full-on Jerome fanatic, he'd pass as a plausible Joker. Looks like we're back to keeping our eyes peeled for any Gotham citizen who could grow up to become Batman's biggest foe.
Images: Nicole Rivelli (2), Screenshot/FOX; Giphy