Fox's DC property, Gotham, is making some big changes for its upcoming third season. Subtitled "Heroes Will Fall," season three will introduce the Court of Owls, Mad Hatter, the Tweed Brothers, and the emergence of an older Poison Ivy -- all while expanding the mystery surrounding the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Dr. Hugo Strange shook things up in the second season as his experimentation at Indian Hill brought Fish Mooney back to life. While losing her at the end of the first season was quite a blow, her death isn't the only one that left fans shocked. Killing off Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) before he ever took up the Joker mantle (it was assumed he'd eventually assume the role) felt like a big let down.
However, death in this fluid world of comic characters is never quite what it seems. After Gotham killed off Jerome in the earlier half of season 2, the show spent the rest of its second season leaving a trail of breadcrumbs about the clown prince of crime. In an interview with Zap2it at the TCA's (h/t CB), John Stephens, Gotham executive producer, speaks on the show's plans to bring back the equal parts insane and charismatic character. He assures fans of Jerome's eventual return, saying:
“It is 100 percent our intention to bring Jerome back. We’re going to be playing it again this year and basically extending the idea of the cult of Jerome. We’re building the architecture for him to come back.”
Fans of the series should temper their excitement because when Jerome makes his inevitable return, it very likely will not happen in Gotham's third season. Producers are banking that changes to the show in the third season will prompt enough fans to want more; though given Gotham's struggles to maintain its audience for the second season, this is a risky move. Future network intentions aside, during the rest of the TCA panel, Stephens goes on to say:
“You’ll have these underground movements that have started to talk about Jerome and what he represented and how he’s going to come back like in the days of John the Baptist. Setting the stage that if there is a Season 4, hopefully we’ll bring that back in a much bigger way, and you’ll see these different versions of the Joker myth. [Jerome] plays into the idea of transformation. When he comes back, you want to see that new version, that next step forward.”
Without ever having explicitly said Jerome Valeska is the Joker, it will be far more effective to watch the legend unfold instead of relying on assumed knowledge of the character's history. With hints that fans may have already met Harley Quinn, Gotham is working hard to add depth to its rogues gallery. But gambling the future on long-term world building is a risky move for a payoff two years from now.
Gotham season 3 premieres September 19, 2016, at 8ET on FOX.