It looks like the time has finally come: Gotham is teasing the introduction of the Joker on the Feb. 16 episode with a new character named Jerome. But if he is the Joker, will Jerome return to Gotham for more episodes? Since he's not even the main character of "The Blind Fortune Teller," I'm thinking he's definitely going to return. No writer would plan to introduce such a dynamic character without considering the return on investment. If you're creating a whole new Joker backstory, I doubt that 44 minutes is going to be enough to explore every single potential idea.
At the very least, the Joker should return for the next episode. It's called "Red Hood," which has got to be a reference to The Killing Joke's Red Hood robberies, the criminal heist that was responsible for turning Joker into, well, the actual Joker when he was pushed into a vat of poisonous chemicals. And the rest of the season doesn't have much set up besides the ongoing mobster war. Some versions of the Joker origins make him a mob goon, but it doesn't seem like this is one of those stories, especially if he's working at a circus in "The Blind Fortune Teller." Maybe his circus dreams aren't enough to pay the bills and he'll be forced to put on the Red Hood and start robbing banks and chemical treatment facilities.
And producer Bruno Heller, who is seemingly singlehandedly determined to promise that every single character in the Batman canon is going to appear at some point in the first season, gave an interview with the TV Guide where he discussed exactly what his plans are for future episodes and the treatment of Joker. A few key quotes suggest that it's just the beginning for Jerome (though I'm not sure if the insistence upon using that name is because Jerome's not really the Joker or they're trying to draw a distinction between his pre and post-transformation self). But Heller triple-double pinky swears that this isn't all a fake out.
We're not playing with the audience. I won't tell you that's the Joker, but I will tell you this is not a trick. This is not a game. This is the beginning of the Joker saga. We're telling the first chapter in the story of how the Joker came to be -- where he came from, who he is, what started him on that path.
However, he never made a big commitment to turning "Jerome" into the Joker right away. He promised that the trailer is suggesting a more obvious version of the Joker than will actually be in the episode, and that they'll play it a little more subtle than having him hysterically laugh and give a big grin every two seconds. That's probably for the best, because teasing too much Joker action would probably make it a lot harder to go back to normal cases of the week in the following weeks.
Images: Jessica Miglio/FOX; Giphy