Gotham clip makes its most explicit references yet to The Killing Joke

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Jan 17, 2020, 1:51 PM EST (Updated)

Is Gotham finally letting the Joker out of his box? By the looks of this just-released clip hyping tonight's penultimate episode airing on Fox ahead of Season 4's finale, it certainly seems that way. But what makes it even more interesting is the fact that the story appears to be taking its cues from Alan Moore's classic graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke.

In the teaser for the episode, titled "One Bad Day," we see the man who would be Joker, aka Jeremiah, the surviving half of the Valeska twins (Jerome was killed in a shootout with Gotham PD a few weeks back), call Bruce Wayne and announce he's kidnapped Alfred while threatening and taunting him.

"Bruce, let's get something straight," the trickster tells him. "If I wanted you dead, you'd be dead. I'd have put a bullet through your brain and left you to rot in that grave. But I meant what I said. You're my best friend, and today I'm gonna prove it to you."

After acknowledging he killed Jim Gordon, he informs Batman's alter ego where to meet him if he doesn't want Alfred to die as well.

The plot is shades of DC's famed one-shot comic published in 1988. With illustrations by Brian Bolland, Moore's take on the Joker offered up a thrilling origin story that has since firmly entrenched itself in the Dark Knight mythos. In that version, the Clown Prince of Chaos is an unnamed engineer who works at a chemical company while moonlighting as a stand-up comedian and turns to a life of crime in a desperate bid to support his pregnant wife, who subsequently dies in an accident.

After his face is disfigured when he participates in a botched robbery, the story shifts to the present day, with the Joker holding Jim Gordon hostage in a run-down amusement park, torturing his mind and sending an invitation to Batman to come and rescue him.

In the end, whether it's the police commissioner in the graphic novel or his manservant in Gotham, Jeremiah has but one aim: to hatch a "transformative experience" to drive the Caped Crusader insane.

What are friends for, really?

Cameron Monaghan, the actor who plays Jeremiah, recently talked about his character's evolution into Batman's archenemy, though taking pains to note he hasn't become the Joker yet.

"The character doesn't have the mantle yet, but I feel like Jerome was the Joker for the show for the first four years, and now we're transitioning into this guy," Monaghan told the Build Series. "We're kind of taking a different take on the Joker and the fact that it's a bit of an ideology."

Gotham airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.