If, like me, you nearly spat your drink out everywhere the second that Shannon Purser, aka Barb from Stranger Things, showed up in Riverdale as Ethel, then you're likely also dying to see more from her character. I'm riding the fandom train all the way to the damn depot on this one. Thankfully, there's a fan theory floating round which provides some dark hope that Ethel could be a more prominent character in Riverdale than she currently appears to be. And there's one important question you need to ask in order to get to the root of this suggestion: Did Ethel kill Jason Blossom in Riverdale? It's totally possible — and here's why.
Firstly, allow me to take a moment to celebrate the way in which Riverdale is paying sweet homage to the corrupt suburban horrors of Twin Peaks. It's all there: the murder mystery; the small town full of dark, salacious secrets; and the rampant, beautiful iconography of Americana. And Ethel is like a character straight out of Twin Peaks.
Just like Twin Peaks' Audrey Horne, Donna Hayward, and Laura Palmer, Ethel appears pretty wholesome, modest, sweet, and innocent on the outside. But much like these characters, there's a definite possibility that she may be harboring some dark secrets underneath that harmless, adorable veneer. And we first glimpsed that potential darkness in "Body Double," the third episode of Riverdale.
In that episode, we saw the male athletes of the football team being exposed as having kept a "playbook" containing all the names of supposed female conquests, along with a scoring system. Veronica was angry to realize that she was mentioned in the playbook for doing things that never actually happened, and Betty was upset to discover that Polly, her sister, was there too.
In trying to find proof of the matter, and get revenge on the players for doing something so sick, Betty and Veronica enlist the help of other female students. It's here that we meet sweet, innocent Ethel, who recounts her "origin story" (as Cheryl blithely puts it), wherein Chuck (the same guy who lied about Veronica) had made up stories suggesting that he and Ethel had done "sex stuff" in the library when she was helping him with an assignment.
Her story is totally plausible. Teenage boys, especially those in teen TV shows, can be absolute jerks. However, there was one specific detail following this scene which struck me as a little odd — the names mentioned in the playbook themselves. Because though we see that Veronica (reduced to the title of "new girl") and Polly are indeed listed, we also see that Ethel is named. More than once. In fact, on the couple of pages that we happen to see of the playbook, Ethel's name is mentioned several times.
Ethel scores a 7.5 each time, something which is horrifically attributed in the book as her being a "big girl." However, another page lists "Ethel Encore" next to a score of 6, which implies that someone may be suggesting that they engaged in a sex act with Ethel for a second time, and thus got a lower score for it.
There are two reasons why this could be significant. The first is that if these young men were indeed lying about Ethel, then the character would no doubt know about every instance (just as Veronica did), and of course be harboring some major ill will toward these guys. You best believe that she wants some revenge (I definitely would). But the second reason suggests that actually, Ethel herself may be lying about some of her sexual engagement with these young men. Perhaps she was enjoying sexual relationships with several members of the team, but felt hurt and rejected once she discovered how little they clearly think of her.
It also feels a bit much that one of these guys would go to the effort of lying about being with the same girl more than once, when they could just lie about any other girl and likely get away with it. But, this feels like even more of a stretch when you consider that the players don't appear to reward Ethel with much of a high score anyway.
But, does anyone really think that a sweetheart like Ethel could have been capable of torturing Jason? Uh, absolutely yes, guys. Because later, when Betty is torturing Chuck in revenge for his actions, Veronica is clearly horrified that she's maybe going a bit too far. Ethel, on the other hand, peeps her face around a door and watches with absolute, unadulterated glee.
This scene seems to show that Ethel, and Betty for that matter, has a taste for violent revenge. And there's a big possibility that Jason may have been the target of it, who was also found to have been tortured prior to his death.
As mentioned by Reddit User Thunderman175 who posted on this very theory, Ethel's "not as innocent as she portrays herself to be," and I'm definitely inclined to agree. There are aspects to this character which I feel we've only scratched the surface of, and pieces of her story so far which simply don't add up.
What those pieces are adding up to, however, is the possibility that Ethel could be involved in Jason's murder in some way, and may even be the murderer. As far as small towns go, Riverdale clearly has a lot scandalous secrets left to be uncovered.