What Gotham’s Shocking Major Character Death Could Mean For The Joker

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(Image credit: Fox)

Many spoilers ahead for the fourth episode of Gotham Season 5, entitled “Ruin.” Turn back now if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want to know what happened!

Gotham is no stranger to killing off characters, even though some of them have the tendency to come back from the dead. Still, there are some characters whose deaths still manage to be absolutely shocking, and one went down in “Ruin.” In his first appearance of Season 5 and only the fourth episode, Jeremiah Valeska -- looking more Joker-esque than ever -- was killed by none other than Selina Kyle, and the door may now be open for the Gotham version of The Joker to develop.

Well, he seemingly was killed, which is not usually something I would say about somebody who was stabbed over and over again in very close quarters, but this is a Valeska brother we’re talking about. Still, Selina (and the episode) appeared to go out of their way to take away any ambiguity that he could survive his injuries. Poor Ecco?

Selina pushed through her own injury and stabbed him in the gut no fewer than nine times, getting extra stabby when he tried to start bantering with her. Selina was having no part of conversing with the man, as that would have gotten in the way of more stabbing.

Really, stabbing seemed to be the order of the day. She would have made it to 10 stabs and possibly even more if Bruce hadn’t shown up to grab her arm and stop her. A little late, Bruce! I don’t think stopping stab #10 is going to stop Selina from having killed Jeremiah. So, operating on the assumption that those nine stabs and Jeremiah falling lifelessly to the floor mean that Jerome’s twin is officially dead, the door may be open for the introduction of The Joker on Gotham.

Admittedly, the story has always been that the JOKER Joker would never appear on Gotham, as Gotham is an origin story for Batman’s iconic characters, and The Joker technically didn’t need to emerge until Bruce was already Batman. Thanks to some quotes from the likes of Cameron Monaghan and showrunner John Stephens, we can safely say that “Ruin” was not the end of Jeremiah’s story, although it’s probably not going to unfold how any of us could have guessed, and it could be part of a lead to The Joker.

Cameron Monaghan revealed that although he “had a lot of fun with Jeremiah in Season 5,” the character he has “most enjoyed playing is the one in the final episode that we haven’t seen yet.” Now, if Gotham hadn’t already pulled the “secret twin” plot with the Valeska brothers by revealing in Season 4 that Jerome had a brother all along that nobody thought to mention, I might suspect that another Valeska brother was going to emerge from the woodwork by the end of Season 5.

Given that Gotham is original to an almost ludicrously entertaining degree, I’m inclined to think that we’re not going to meet Jerry Valeska, the secret triplet. Showrunner John Stephens dropped some comments to TV Guide that lead me to believe that Gotham is going for one of its craziest plot twists ever. Here’s what John Stephens had to say about Jeremiah:

You never see a full transformation into the Joker, but you do see another transformation. Jeremiah undergoes another evolution in his character to become another amalgam of Jeremiah and Jerome that I think audiences are gonna look at and say, 'If it's not the Joker then it's definitely an antecedent or a proto-Joker that lives there.’

Jeremiah and Jerome may both be dead, but dead doesn’t have to mean gone forever on Gotham. Jerome already received a resurrection, thanks to the research of Dr. Hugo Strange, and we know that Strange is still around and playing with the dead thanks to what happened to Nygma and Lee at the end of Season 4. John Stephens’ tease that the next version of the character will be an “amalgam of Jeremiah and Jerome” probably means Cameron Monaghan’s most bonkers performances to date.

Now, Jerome and Jeremiah’s bodies were both a mess when they bit the dust, so even if Strange could resurrect one of them, would either body be capable of sustaining life? Well, one theory that I kind of love is that the third character won’t be a resurrected Jerome or Jeremiah simply showing similar characteristics to his brother. Could Strange play Dr. Frankenstein and create a monstrosity out of pieces of Jerome and pieces of Jeremiah? A Jeromiah, if you will?

The idea isn’t quite as crazy for Gotham as it would be for pretty much any other show. As perfect as Cameron Monaghan has always been for the role of Gotham’s Joker thanks to that maniacal laugh of his, there have been things about both Jerome and Jeremiah that didn’t quite fit with what most viewers likely expect of a version of The Joker. Couldn’t a third character, combining Jerome and Jeremiah and undoubtedly twisted in the head more than ever before, be the beginnings of The Joker?

A crazed amalgamation of the two brothers would make for a blank slate of a character, which would be fitting for the man who would go on to become Batman’s greatest (and largely most mysterious, with regard to his origin) nemesis. DId Gotham find the way to have its Valeskas and its proto-Joker without needing to cast somebody other than the wonderfully wacky Cameron Monaghan? We already know he can nail the look of The Joker on top of the laugh.

Only time will tell. Camren Bicondova told CinemaBlend about whether or not Selina could come back from her darkness, and John Stephens revealed that a whole lot of comic twists are in the works for the coming episodes. Bane will undoubtedly debut in the not-too-distant future, and I’m expecting more to come from Jim and Babs’ hookup. Is a baby Batgirl on the way?

Tune in to Fox on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of Gotham. If you need some less wild primetime fun for the rest of the week, swing by our midseason premiere schedule for your options. If streaming is more your style, our Netflix premiere schedule is worth a look as well, although DC Universe is the place to be for all-DC Comics-based entertainment.

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).