It's not hard to see that when the Joker will finally be let loose upon Gotham, Bruce Wayne will shoulder part of the blame. If he had not delivered that speech, if he had only left Jeremiah in his office, he never would have left, and he might never had opened a suspicious package from Wayne Enterprises. But Jerome did leave, and only because of Bruce's words. Like in the comic books, Bruce helped create the Joker. And, like in the source material, the two are now tied together. There is now a tragic story behind Gotham's Joker, one that will always make Bruce look at Joker with empathy and regret -- something that would explain why he will never bring himself to cross the line, and kill him, no matter which atrocity he commits.
However, this isn't to say that Gotham didn't pay homage to Joker's birth in a vat of chemicals. In fact, late in the episode, when Gordon finally has Jerome on the ropes at the top of a building, the police Captain shoots his target, only for Jerome to fall and hold on for dear life to a pole. Standing over the ledge, Gordon, like Batman, reaches out and tries to save Jerome -- but the young villain lets himself fall to his death instead, laughing all along the way. This scene managed to homage three separate incarnations of the Joker in one fell swoop: on top of the comic origin, it also gave a nod to The Dark Knight's Joker, who laughed as he fell at the end of the film and the '89 Batman's Joker, who was dead on the ground with a permanent smile.
Jerome may not have fallen in a vat of chemicals but, as he fell, he disappeared, and the Joker was born -- it was just in a different place. There are many differences between Gotham's Joker origins and the one seen in the comics, but some of the most crucial elements managed to make it in. Jerome's fall was a clear mirror of the Red Hood's fall, and Jeremiah's transformation was in part due to Bruce Wayne's presence. The television series remained true to itself and the story it told, all while bridging the gap between the comics and the world it created.
Whether this was the origin fans wanted or not, Gotham opted to remain true to itself and offer something bold, new and familiar, all at the same time. It's quite the creative punchline. And that's what telling a good joke is all about.
Airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth.