Why Gotham Used Jerome And Jeremiah To Tell Its Joker Origin Story

gotham jerome jeremiah fox season 4
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Fox)

Gotham has gotten crazier than ever in Season 4 with the introduction of Jeremiah Valeska, a.k.a. Jerome Valeska's brother who is off his rocker in a whole different way. Fans who have been waiting and wondering about when Gotham's version of the Joker would show up have gotten two characters who mostly fit the bill to eventually become Batman's greatest enemy. Gotham executive producer John Stephens spoke with CinemaBlend about why the show used the Valeskas to tell a Joker origin story, saying this:

Some of it came from, we like to do a lot of playing around with doubling on the show, you know? Also like a scene from the books. We wanted to keep on playing with the ideas of the Joker, and also ways of telling the audience that Jerome is not our Joker -- not The Joker, even if he was our Joker -- or that he's doing another version of The Joker on the show who's also not The Joker. [laughs] But the idea was: Jerome, as chaotic and anarchic as the acting can be, doesn't embody all of the qualities that would go on to eventually be The Joker. So we asked ourselves how could we take some of those qualities and embed them in another character, and the most obvious way to do that was to give Jerome a twin brother. So in creating Jeremiah, we wanted to give him [pieces from] different books, like the idea that he and Batman are paired together in a way, whether they're like brothers or two sides of the same coin -- whatever you want to say. So giving that to Jeremiah, creating a psychosis where Jerome is not the brother he should have had, but that Bruce is the brother he should have had. So he gets to entertain whether he wants to drive Bruce insane, which gave us the opportunity in tomorrow night's episode to play our version of The Killing Joke, which you can see in all the iconography whenever you watch the episode. In 'One Bad Day,' rather than trying to drive Gordon insane as in does in [Alan] Moore's book, here he's trying to drive Bruce insane so the two of them can be paired together.

Viewers who thought Jerome would turn out to be Gotham's Joker despite all the evidence (and statements) to the contrary had to face the reality that Jerome would never gain all of those qualities that define the Clown Prince of Crime after he fell to his death in Season 4. Twin brother Jeremiah is a madman in his own right, but there's an organization and structure to his madness that was absent in Jerome. Jerome wanted to watch Gotham burn; Jeremiah wants to build something out of it. Neither Valeska has been given (at this point) all the qualities we've come to expect of a Joker courtesy of decades of comics books and movies. That said, according to John Stephens in his chat with CinemaBlend's own Nick Venable, Jerome and Jeremiah together do embody those qualities.

The trailer for the next episode points toward Jeremiah seeking out a bond with Bruce that he never formed with Jerome prior to his death. The episode -- called "One Bad Day" -- will also feature Jeremiah preparing to level Gotham City, so the good guys of Gotham will have a lot on their hands. Bruce may be all on his own if he gets himself in trouble yet again.

Combined with John Stephens' comments, the footage released so far for "One Bad Day" points toward a Gotham take on the classic Alan Moore story The Killing Joke, in which the Joker kidnaps Jim Gordon, shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon/the former Batgirl, torments him with images of his daughter gravely injured, and attempts to drive him mad due to his belief that all it takes is "one bad day" for a good man to go crazy. "One Bad Day" will present a version of The Killing Joke that substitutes Bruce Wayne in for Jim Gordon. We can only hope that nobody ends up shot and paralyzed on Gotham, not least because the city could be on the verge of destruction.

We'll have to wait and see. Fox has not yet announced whether or not Gotham will return for Season 5, but we have a long list of reasons why cancelling Gotham would be a huge mistake. You can catch "One Bad Day" on Thursday, May 10 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. For what you can watch during the upcoming hiatus, take a look at our summer TV premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).