What's Up With Ethel Darling On ‘AHS: Freak Show’? Kathy Bates Is Being Seriously Underused
A lot has happened ever since American Horror Story: Freak Show first welcomed us into its tent. Killer clowns have been de-masked, backstories have been revealed, and the musical performances are so powerful they've even managed to raise the dead on occasion. But that being said, there is one major disappointment I've found myself grappling with all season long, and it has to do with Kathy Bates' AHS character Ethel Darling. I mean, aside from a few doctor's appointments and a perplexing accent, Ethel's story arc is pretty much non-existent at this point, which feels like a terrible waste of Bates' legendary talent. Because despite whatever mixed feelings you may have about Coven, you can't deny that Season 3 was chock-full of compelling characters and Delphine LaLaurie was at the top of that list.
So why, you may ask, is Ryan Murphy consciously choosing to underuse one of his most valuable assets? The only logical explanation I can think of is that he has major plans for Ethel in the second half of this season, so he's trying to keep her under the radar for as long as possible to throw us all off. (Mission accomplished, BTW.) Either that or Murphy's gone completely insane. Because if Ethel simply ends up dying from her illness without so much as an interesting plot twist I'm going to have to conjure Edward Mordrake myself and have him make Murphy pay for this heinous crime. Kathy Bates deserves better than this, and so do we.
But like I said, I'm choosing to think positive and believe that Murphy has a greater agenda in store for AHS's bearded lady. Though on the off-chance that he doesn't, I just so happen to have a few suggestions of where Ethel's storyline could go…
She Will Become the New Elsa
Unlike Elsa, Ethel tends to think about what's best for the group rather than herself. She truly cares about the performers and has the potential to be a really great (and fair) leader. And given that Ethel has been keeping a rather close eye on Elsa these days — even overhearing her and Stanley plot a Bette and Dot "mercy killing" — it provides the perfect set up for Ethel to take Elsa down for good. Fräulein Mars has made it pretty clear that she's only looking out for No. 1 regardless of the cost. She needs to be stopped, and Ethel should be the one to make it happen. Plus, it would just be great to see Bates and Jessica Lange go toe-to-toe with each other again.
She Will Avenge Ma Petite's Death
You don't just kill off one of the show's most beloved characters and allow the murderer to walk away scot-free. Wouldn't it be great if Ethel eventually figures out that this was Dell's dirty work and exacts revenge on both him and Stanley? Hell hath no fury like a bearded woman scorned.
She Will Battle Dandy
Before, it looked like we were primed for a Dandy and Jimmy showdown, but what if Ethel was brought into the picture as well and took down that evil clown before he had a chance to murder anyone else? She'd become Freak Show's ultimate hero and give Bates that shining moment we all know she more than deserves.
Your move, Murphy.