SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you’ve seen “The Last Laugh,” Monday’s episode of Gotham.
When Gotham first introduced Jerome Valeska in season 1, fans immediately started speculating about whether he could eventually become the Joker. And by episode’s end, Jerome had not only committed murder, but he’d let out the sort of laugh that strikes fear into the hearts of everyone.
Flash forward to season 2, and Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome has become a full-on villain, showing more and more signs that he could be the iconic villain. And yet, three episodes into the season, the show just killed him off. Not only that, but the episode ended with various citizens around Gotham letting loose that famous Joker laugh. So what does it all mean?
We’re not entirely sure, but when we spoke with executive producer Danny Cannon about the new season in advance of EW’s Fall TV Preview mega-issue, he had a few thoughts on the Joker character that now make a lot of sense.
“The reason the Joker is the greatest villain in comic book history, I believe, is the fact that he has this overwhelming need to create chaos,” Cannon said. “Every single one of us has these suppressors in our brain that keep us behaved well. The minute those suppressors go wrong, we take drugs and call these people crazy. But the great thing about the Joker is he has none of those restrictions. He has none of those suppressants. He has none of those walls up. He’s just absolutely free and that’s why we appreciate that. We appreciate somebody who’s completely free of fear and unaware of how people are supposed to behave.”
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And that’s why Cannon said he doesn’t believe that the Joker is necessarily one character on their show. “I think the Joker isn’t so much a single person as he is an ideology,” Cannon said. “[He’s] an idea that we can all live without fear and we can all be free and we can all not live within the world’s restrictions and not live within the rules at all. This guy walks between the lines and I think that’s an ideology. It’s not a single person. It’s a way to live your life, and I think that’s what we explore.”
So perhaps Gotham has only seen the first of many Jokers? If that’s the case, good luck, Gordon.
To find out what Monaghan had to say about his departure, check out our chat with him here.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.