When Jerome Valeska hit the scene of Fox’s Gotham series, little did people suspect that he would be one of the prime candidates for eventually becoming the Joker. However, following his introduction during the first season and the reveal that he was responsible for his mother’s death, Jerome took a serious turn toward being the Clown Prince of Crime in mocking the GCPD while in their custody, as well as twisting the knife on his dear father. In the second season, Jerome was busted free from Arkham Asylum by the big bad of the season, Theo Galavan, and acted as de facto leader to a group of homicidal maniacs aptly named “The Maniax”. Slicing a bloody knife across Gotham City, Jerome exhibited more and more of a character that seemed like a combination of the many “Jokers” we had seen before. Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and even some Mark Hamill were all found in one mannerism or another in Jerome.
As one of Galavan’s big plays, he set Jerome and Barbara Gordon, Jim’s crazed ex-wife, onto a charity fundraiser attended by none other than Bruce Wayne himself. Pretending to be a great magician, Jerome took the crowd hostage and even had a face to face encounter with Bruce that is until he himself was stabbed by his benefactor Galavan in a play to win the public to Theo’s side. It seemed as though that this was the final curtain for Jerome, as the police wheeled him to the morgue, a sinister smile still spread across his face. However, Gotham series’ executive producer John Stephens recently stated at New York Comic Con that this may not be the last we’ve seen of Jerome. Is it possible that Jerome made it out alive? Will he come back to trouble Gotham once again and eventually take the mantle of the one and only Joker? Many fans certainly think so.
To start, Jerome isn’t truly dead when you think about it, as his spirit lives on in the homicidal minds and hearts of those he influenced with his final televised act. Following his death, we’re granted a look at several random citizens, laughing hysterically and committing various horrifying acts, all seemingly touched by Jerome’s madness. So while he may no longer be in the world of the living, he may very well still be the Joker in the sense that his acts live on through whoever ends up as the most well-known super villain Gotham has ever seen.
This isn’t to say that we can’t believe Jerome managed to escape the Grim Reaper. This is the Batman universe after all, and what would the Joker be if he didn’t escape death dozens of times? Jerome’s origins are steeped in magic and mysticism with his father being a blind fortune teller. Surely the young sociopath has learned a trick or two in his time from his carnie days and who’s to say he didn’t manage to employ some of these in faking his own death? What better show for an audience then to end a performance with the death of the performer himself? In his twisted mind, perhaps Jerome knew all along what Galavan’s plan was and created a plan of his own to avert death.
Another alternative is that Galavan faked the death himself, stabbing Jerome but paying off those who quoted him as dead and picking up “the body” at a later time. Jerome was a significant asset for Galavan and one that he truly seemed remorseful at losing during the episode of his untimely demise. Who’s to say that Theo didn’t have a plan in place to bring Jerome back from the dead and employ him for the use of the Order of St. Dumas? There have also been several hints that the Court of Owls will be appearing this season, and one of their biggest characteristics is resurrecting folks to act as their henchmen. Certainly this would mean that Jerome did in fact die, but maybe he could return as a Talon of the Court later in the season?
From Season 2's mid-season finale, we're given even more of a reason to think that Jerome may be strutting back into the land of the living, as the Indian Hill facility is shown to not only be conducting some shady experiments, but also actively taking in the bodies of the worst criminals Gotham had to offer. With Theo Galavan's body being rolled into their clutches, along with a brief glimpse of what appears to be Fish Mooney, the possibility that Jerome is there as well is certainly stronger than it is weaker. Also, with the Mr. Freeze reveal at the end of the episode, and Victor's background in cryogenics, it's certainly a possibility that Jerome's body was put on ice with the good doctor's assistance.
While it certainly seems that Jerome is deader than a doornail for now, things aren’t always as they seem in the dark, cold streets of Gotham City. Do you think Jerome is truly dead or is he biding his time to strike against Gotham once again?