Now that it's halfway through its third season, Fox's Batman prequel Gotham has already presented origin stories for several heroes and villains of DC Comics mythology. But the show has kept its audience waiting all this time for confirmation on one iconic bad guy. Textual evidence suggests that Jerome Valeska is probably the Joker on Gotham. He had fans talking about that possibility as of his first appearance, but then the show went and killed Cameron Monaghan's character off. But the theory about his future criminal mastermind identity was revived when Jerome was. He's back on the loose and as deranged as ever. In addition to his resurrection, there are seven reasons why Jerome has to be Gotham's Joker.
It would take a lot of narrative gymnastics for Gotham to back out of this Joker storyline now. The Jerome fake-out in Season 2 was a shocker; it prolonged the mystery effectively. But Gotham should be cautious about dragging out the who-is-the-Joker plot much further, lest fans who are hungrily eating up every reference get bored. If Jerome Valeska isn't the Joker, then Gotham has gone too far out of its way to convince the audience that he is. The case for that answer is way too strong. Here's how I know Jerome is already in the process of becoming Gotham City's Clown Prince.
1. His Passion For Performance
Oswald, Ed, and Barbara prefer to do their nasty business in the dark. They don't lie about who they are, but they're not looking to advertise it. Jerome always wants an audience. And across Batman adaptations, the Joker displays that same tendency towards theatricality.
2. He Likes To Play Dress Up
Will you ever forget Heath Ledger's Joker in his nurse whites in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight? Me neither. Jerome isn't really a master of disguise. He just seems to enjoy trying on different lifestyles and using them to bring about chaos.
3. The Face Thing
The Joker is often represented with a disfigured or scarred face. (Usually, the result of a chemical accident.) And in a 2011 Detective Comics Story, his face was surgically removed. The same thing happened to Jerome during his reawakening. Now he keeps his visage on with a staple gun.
4. Symbols Written In His Name
Jerome's memory led to the creation of a cult. Its followers spread their message and marked their meeting spots with graffiti depicting a grotesque and hysterical face. This is unquestionably Joker-related imagery.
5. This Smilex Smirk
Jerome's body was kept viable in one of the pods left behind by Hugo Strange. While many of the other bodies shown were expressionless, this guy sported an exaggerated smile. It's reminiscent of the effects of the Joker's Smilex laughing gas, as seen in Tim Burton's Batman.
6. He's An Anarchist Hero
Jerome and the Joker share the same goals: disorder, hedonism, and un-checked violence. It makes them spiritual leaders to men and women who want to turn their backs on society. He's not just a person, he's a movement.
7. He Feels Right At Home At The Circus
I have a theory that early exposure to the Joker manifests in many people as a fear of clowns. Jerome was born in a traveling circus. And though that's not a past cribbed from a Joker comic book story, the character is often associated with makeup, clowning, and the big top in general.
Jerome Valeska isn't just the Joker Gotham needs, he's the Joker that Gotham deserves. It's time to let him claim that name.