Gotham's Joker Takes a Page From Jack Nicholson's Playbook

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Gotham's latest episode, "That Old Corpse."

It's safe to say that the revelation that Jerome Valeska had a twin brother surprised pretty much every fan of Gotham. As viewers have followed the series along, they have seen Jerome evolve from a deranged carnival stagehand into a pure force of chaos and destruction, a maniac able to turn an entire city mad. The character inched closer and closer to being the Joker, but the rug was pulled out from under us when Jerome was abruptly killed in the same episode that his twin brother was dosed with a special concoction of Laughing Gas.

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Jeremiah's skin turned pale, and he started laughing uncontrollably -- and that was the last we saw of him. But when he resurfaces in the latest episode of the Fox series, Jeremiah is back to his usual self. His skin is no longer bleached, and he appears to have all his wits about him. What's more, he's bonding with Bruce Wayne over a pet project that would give Gotham City free, sustainable energy. Something definitely doesn't seem right and, for the better part of the episode, we have that unshakable feeling -- a suspicion that something will go wrong.

Eventually, the other shoe drops, confirming our worst fears: Jeremiah is as near as Gotham will ever get to having a Joker, and he declares it by pulling a trick right out of the bag of Jack Nicholson's version of the character.

Gotham Jeremiah Valeska makeup

When Jeremiah finally reveals his true colors, he does it quite literally. With a band of Jerome's followers and a captive Bruce Wayne watching, Jeremiah drops the act of a helpless, crazed lunatic afraid of his brother's ghost that he has maintained for the better part of the episode.

Over the open grave of his dead brother, Jeremiah slowly takes a handkerchief to his face and starts wiping away skin-colored makeup. Jeremiah's pale skin is revealed, just as he reveals himself to be the mastermind behind the events plaguing the GCPD at that very moment. The scene is clearly a callback to the museum sequence from Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film, which saw Jack Nicholson's Jack Napier approach Vicky Vale with a face full of skin-colored makeup.

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As we glimpse Jeremiah's true face, we can't help but notice that it doesn't bear a giant smile. He wears a purple suit, and he vows to follow his brother's work -- but he appears to have a different approach. He doesn't act on impulse, and he is infinitely more calculating. He's cold and calm. He doesn't cackle or giggle. He's a different type of villain than his brother, one who carries a demeanor that makes him perhaps even more terrifying.

Whether Gotham is giving us a different kind of Joker or simply allowing the spirit of Jerome to live through his brother, this is as close as we can get to the series having its very own Clown Prince of Crime. And it looks like his reign of terror is only beginning.

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.

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