Gotham returned to our screens this week with another incredible episode centered around Arkham Asylum. I'm thrilled to return to this police-drama, comic book style, and now that all of our major players have been fleshed out, I'm excited to see where they go with the remainder of the first season.
Of course, there is one huge name from the roster of Batman villains that has yet to appear: The Joker.
Back when the show first aired, a lot was made of the stand up comedian who briefly appeared in the pilot episode, and many fans theorized that he would return as the Joker much later down the line. EW spoke with showrunner Bruno Heller, who said that we would be seeing the Crown Prince of Crime, but his inclusion would take "great care and a lot of thought." Then Bleeding Cool reported that multiple potential jokers would be revealed throughout the show.
It seemed that the writers were happy to create little nods to the Joker, tease the audience (and give them something that so many fans wanted!) without making him a big player right off the bat (see what I did there?).
However, there is another theory, started on Reddit, that would have us believe that this is all a smokescreen, and that the Joker is already in the show! The theory revolves around the Penguin, postulating that he is, or will become, the Joker.
Now, Robin Lord Taylor has spoken about the theory with MTV, and neither confirms or denies it...
I was so impressed at the detail that this person went into...I was just amazed at the amount of attention that people are paying to the show. I mean, he was looking at the colors of my vest, and my suit and extrapolating off of that! I find it incredibly unlikely, but at the same time, I have no idea what could happen.
Who knows what'll happen? I think that the more diverse that we can make this world, the more of these rich characters from the Batman world can be introduced. I think it's better for the show. I would welcome a Joker with open arms!
It's easy to see why some may believe that Oswald Cobblepot is more than what he seems. He has been the central villain for essentially the entire first season, tying together the gangs, usurping Fish Mooney, and challenging Jim Gordon's morals (and leading to some of the issues between Jim and Barbara); while the other "big name" baddies (Selena Kyle, Ivy Pepper, Ed Nygma) make brief, often sympathetic appearances. As the Joker is the ultimate nemesis of Batman, it makes some sense that the biggest threat in the show could become him.
However, I don't think that's the case, and the rest of the original theory falls apart under scrutiny.
Yes, Oswald can now be seen in some outfits that mimic the trademark green and purple of the Joker, but I think that this is simply another nod to the great villain, rather than a hint at his future. The original theory claims that Oswald does not physically resemble the Penguin from the comics enough (a claim that was leveled at Robin Lord Taylor many times when he was first cast), but other than being taller and slimmer than the original, I think that he looks the part. He has the limp, and the way that they highlight his nose exaggerates it into the perfect Penguin hook.
Then of course, we have the bulk of the theory - that Oswald would give his name to someone else to hide from Fish Mooney. Clearly that didn't happen. Oswald has returned in a blaze of glory, all but taking out a full page ad to announce himself! Even before this happened, his character didn't seem the type to try and hide in the shadows - he is so insecure that he feels the need to show off to all and sundry, and has an inflated sense of self-importance. That is not the kind of person who would intentionally give his name to some fat street urchin. He IS the Penguin, and has actually moved from snapping at people who use the name to embracing it, using it with his head held high.
I believe that he is one of the stars of the show because he connects the different elements so well, and because the writers wanted to provide a villain with a recognizable name to cater to those fans who want more than cops and gangsters. I also feel that as the show progresses, we will see future seasons focus on different characters more as their stories become increasingly relevant to the overall arc of Gordon's story. With so many possibilities, the series needs to focus on one at a time, otherwise they would risk a show that was confused, not going into sufficient depth with the individual characters.
It's always possible that this theory will continue to make the rounds of the internet, and Robin Lord Taylor's words could easily be edited to make it seem as though he is hinting at the possibility, but I choose to take them at face value. Gotham is an incredibly detailed and well-thought-out series, and I'm sure that the Joker will appear eventually, but I'm happy to spend some time with other villains for now.
Maybe we'll see Joker for the tenth season...because if Gotham continues the way it is now, I have little doubt that we will have plenty of time for the cast to develop!