If there’s one arrival Gotham fans are more excited for than The Dark Knight himself, it’s the return of Cameron Monaghan’s proto-Joker “Jerome.” 2017 trailers made clear we’d see the character again, but does a new premiere photo from “Smile Like You Mean It” reveal a familiar faceless grin? Might there be a bizarre tie-in with The Dark Knight itself?

Gotham Season 3 will return on January 16 with “Ghosts,” the first footage of which teased that Jerome’s legacy had spread to the point of rave-like gatherings celebrating his Joker-esque laugh. Granted, Cameron Monaghan himself has promised an actual return to the series on multiple recent occasions, the actor himself confirmed over Instagram that a shot from January 23 episode “Smile Like You Mean It” would physically feature his character:


A photo posted by Cameron Monaghan (@cameronmonaghan) on

Naturally, the makeup visible on the top half of Monaghan’s face calls to mind the recent comic arc in which The Joker’s face was removed, something the actor has also teased over social media. It still isn’t entirely clear how Jerome’s body ended up back in the GCPD lab (looking remarkably well-preserved at that), but further deepening the mystery is the presence of The Dark Knight star David Dastmalchian in a separate shot from “Ghosts”:


As many will remember, Dastmalchian played Thomas Schiff, acolyte to Heath Ledger’s Joker in the 2008 Christopher Nolan film. The shot below from earlier Gotham trailers would seem to confirm the actor again in a support role to his cackling boss, but the exact circumstances remain unknown.


Lest we forget, producers previously teased the prospect of a “Joker Cult” forming through Seasons 3 and 4 in Jerome’s wake. The FOX DC drama tipped heavily toward the character’s Joker future before Season 2 outing “The Last Laugh” killed off Jerome; insinuating his legacy as a “Joker Virus” on the city. Jerome himself has scarcely been referenced since (save for an audio cameo in the Season 2 finale).

Well find out for ourselves on January 16, but is Gotham finally going to go there with Jerome as Joker? Stay tuned.

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