As Batman fans knew from the title, yesterday’s penultimate episode of Gotham‘s fourth season – “One Bad Day” – was inspired by Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke. It made some major changes to the storyline, such as having the Joker torment Bruce Wayne instead of Jim Gordon, but it did replicate one of the most famous moments from the comic in its final minutes.
Just when Bruce and Selina were sharing a quiet moment back at Wayne Manor, reflecting on what Jeremiah Valeska had put the young billionaire through, the proto-Clown Prince of Crime himself shows up and shoots Selina in the stomach! This is a shocking ending to the episode on its own terms, but it also closely echoes the Joker’s attack on Batgirl in The Killing Joke. Selina even falls back onto the coffee table, much like Barbara Gordon does on the page.
Jeremiah actor Cameron Monaghan spoke to ComicBook.com about this surprising twist recently and apart from the obvious reason that Batgirl isn’t even born when Gotham is set, he explained that the reason Selina became the Joker’s victim in this version of the story was because it made the stakes “more personal to Bruce.” He teased that it reminds the audience that the characters “can be hurt.”
“Obviously we have The Killing Joke references and homages in this episode. The final scene with the shooting of Selina Kyle is obviously a reference to Barbara Gordon from that story. That was something to make it more personal to Bruce. She gave it a certain level of stakes that he’s hurting the people he loves, not only does he think that James Gordon has been murdered by display, but Alfred has been tortured.
The girl that he loves is also been seriously hurt. I think that the final two episodes are designed to reinvent the stakes of the story and to remind people these characters are human, fallible, they can be hurt, and no one is protected.”
Of course, Batman lore dictates that Selina will survive this, as she must go on to become Catwoman. But hey, this is a show which has killed off the character we thought was the Joker and brought in his twin brother instead, so who knows what’ll happen? We’ll just have to wait and see how the season wraps up when Gotham reaches its finale next Thursday on FOX.