Just as Gotham has teased Bruce Wayne’s eventual evolution into Batman, the series has taken great pleasure in toying with its audience regarding the future of its freshly face-peeled maniac, Jerome. Cameron Monaghan’s take on the would-be Clown Prince of Crime has become a staple of the series, earning him the moniker of Proto-Joker, as his actions and physical appearance gradually became more and more like his comic book counterpart, even as Monaghan’s performance began to mirror that of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.
The character has been put through the ringer in the past few seasons, having been killed, brought back to life, and subsequently having his face removed and reattached, giving him the unique, not-quite-Joker-like appearance he enjoys today. What’s strange is that after avoiding confirmation that Jerome is or is not the Joker for so long, series star David Mazouz recently delivered a surprise, saying Jerome was, indeed, not the Joker, but that he would have a surprising role in the creation of the real deal.
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As such, ‘Mandatory Brunch Meeting’ is perhaps the worst kept secret in Gotham’s history, and deliberately so, as the series is certainly in need of a ratings boost that Kid Batman isn’t delivering. So who would the series turn to in its hour of need, but one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. It’s a risky proposition, as Gotham’s take on popular characters has been somewhat spotty over the course of its nearly four-season run. But while the series struggles at times to balance its love of camp with its dark and violent tone, the renditions of some of DC’s biggest baddies have helped toe that line to a respectable degree.
As it turns out, the hoopla over the Joker making an appearance in the episode wasn’t entirely earned. Though ‘Mandatory Brunch Meeting’ certainly delivered a surprise, it wasn’t a hard and fast confirmation on the character finally appearing on the show. Rather it was the beginning of another (potentially long) tease, wherein Monaghan could still one day play the Clown Prince of Crime without Jerome ever rising to assume the mantle.
If you had the sneaking suspicion that Gotham wasn’t going to just hand the Joker over to another actor after all the time and effort Monaghan put into the role, well, you’re absolutely right. In the Gotham-iest twist Gotham ever Gotham-ed, it turns out Jerome has a twin brother named Jeremiah (also played by Monaghan), otherwise known as Xander Wilde. While ‘Mandatory Brunch Meeting’ doesn’t come out and say it, the implications of the episode’s reveal are clear, and they certainly make sense in the context of Mazouz’s comments: If anyone’s going to become the Joker, audiences probably just met him.
The sort-of reveal is an appropriately silly, inelegant solution to a problem Gotham created for itself. Yet, at the same time, it’s hard not to applaud the series for taking such an expectedly outlandish approach to solving its unique Joker situation.
We will have a full review of ‘Mandatory Brunch Meeting’ shortly. Feel free to begin a conversation in the comments section.
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Gotham continues next Thursday with ‘That’s Entertainment’ @8pm on FOX.