What Happened To Regina Ballard And Athena? Can Dr. Georgina Stanton And Athena Be The Same Person?


“The Midnight Club” is that kind of series that leaves you pondering over a myriad of theories and speculations. The story is much more than merely a horror drama. It leaves a lot of open ends and also makes an effort to show a different reality to those who have a habit of treating things in a one-dimensional manner. The ending cliffhanger of the series leaves us with an unsettling feeling about a pivotal character called Dr. Georgina Stanton. She had been running a hospice, which on the exterior looked like any regular medical institution, but soon the mysteries surrounding the building started to unfold. Once, there was a cult operating in the basement of the premise, whose symbol could be seen on Stanton’s neck at the end of the series and therefore bring to our discussion her connection with the leader of the cult, Regina Ballard. These two prominent women have influenced the narrative of the series since the beginning, and hence, without any further ado, let’s explore their part in the grand scheme of things.

What Was The Paragon Cult? Is Regina Ballard Dead Or Alive?

Ilonka was a cheerful and aspirational girl who wanted to achieve great heights in life, but she hit rock bottom as soon as she found out about her terminal cancer. In her pursuit to find the cure, she bumped onto a web page on which information about a hospice named Brightcliffe was given. Through Ilonka, we came to know that Brightcliffe Hospice was founded by Dr. Georgina Stanton in 1966 after she purchased the property, which earlier belonged to the cult named Paragon, founded by a healer called Regina Ballard. Ilonka had come to Brightcliffe only after getting obsessed with the fact that there was once a woman named Julia Jayne who was cured of her illness after her stay at Brightcliffe. Through the hints left by Julia in her case file and inside the premises of the hospice, Ilonka came across a diary that was written by a girl named Athena Ballard.

Athena was Regina Ballard’s daughter, the woman who started the Paragon cult. It was never intended to be a Satanist cult and began as a naturopathic alternative to modern medicine. Regina started the cult in 1931 after buying the property that initially belonged to Stanley Oscar Freelan and Vera Freelan. She was a devout follower of ancient Greek Goddesses who believed in harnessing mother nature’s powers and treating people with them. But soon, Regina’s faith turned into a blind obsession, after which she started practicing rituals that involved sacrificing lambs. She did all sorts of ancient rituals down in the basement and also involved her daughter in the proceedings. Regina believed that once she was gone, her daughter would take the mantle and keep the cult alive. But Athena bailed out.

Athena escaped from the facility and took all the children with her. She informed the nearest police station about her mother and the kind of dubious rituals she was indulging in. The police arrived at the scene and found Regina Ballard sitting in the same basement, surrounded by the dead bodies of the other cult members. Regina pleaded that she didn’t intend to kill the other cultists and that she had accidentally made the tea using the wrong plants. Athena testified against her mother and told the authorities that her mother knew exactly what she was doing. Regina Ballard was taken into custody by the authorities and was probably kept in a psychiatric facility. We see her once again in the year 1968 when Julia Jayne finds out about her and goes to meet her. We don’t know anything about the intricacies of the ritual that Julia Jayne claimed saved her life. The series doesn’t mention what happened to her after that meeting with Julia in 1968, and it was still unknown until the end of season 1 whether she was alive in the current timeline, i.e., 1994 or not.

Did Regina Ballard Really Poison The Tea?

The way Regina talked about the cult; it didn’t feel like she would be capable of indulging in such sinister activities. For a moment, when you hear her talking to Julia, you want to believe her side of the story. Regina talked about the gods and goddesses. She believed that she had a pure heart. She spoke with so much conviction that you believed that she didn’t have any sort of malicious intent. It felt as if she had been highly misunderstood. She completely realized how the world saw her. She even asked Julia why she would want to believe in a pariah. Regina knew that society despised her, but she still held her ground. Maybe Regina didn’t poison the tea in reality, and there was somebody else who did it just so that she could be framed. The country was witnessing a wave where the authorities were conducting a crackdown on all the cultist movements. It could have been possible that somebody just saw them as easy targets and did so with some ulterior motive. It could also have been possible that somebody else would have wanted to sacrifice human life and make a barter with the devil. Maybe the person would have wanted to use the occult setup to their benefit, knowing that the blame would have always fallen on Regina Ballard. Maybe Regina Ballard was used by someone for their own purpose.

The poisoning of the sisters served two purposes: firstly, Regina was ousted from her position of power, and secondly, the blame for taking human lives was put on her. Regina Ballard had started afresh after serving her time at the mental health facility, but she wasn’t repentant for what she had done that night. But she did feel betrayed by her own daughter. Regina and Athena were no longer in touch with each other, but she still held a lot of grudges against her daughter. Somewhere, we feel that Regina might have been a victim of somebody else’s sinister desires. She might not have intended to sacrifice human life, though nothing could be ascertained for sure due to the lack of physical evidence.

What Happened To Athena? Can Dr. Georgina Stanton And Athena Be The Same Person?

There are two theories pertaining to the real identity of Dr. Georgina Stanton. She did have some connection to the Paragon cult, as it was revealed that she also had the hourglass tattoo on the back of her neck. But from the very beginning of the series, “The Midnight Club,” she had portrayed herself as a non-believer. She didn’t believe that satanic rituals could buy an individual more time or reverse the course of nature. But she also knew that Julia was sick (which she told Ilonka in the 10th episode) and that she wanted to do the ritual to once again defy death.

One probable theory could be that Dr. Stanton was Athena, the daughter of Regina Ballard. Maybe she actually didn’t believe in the cult and betrayed her own mother because she felt that whatever she was doing was totally evil. But then there were many things that conflicted with this speculation. If Dr. Stanton was really Athena, then it is incomprehensible why she let the basement stay in its original state. If an individual has a bad association with someplace, then why would he or she want to own it and, moreover, run a facility from there itself? By the looks of it, Athena was horrified when she saw her mother making an animal sacrifice. She was so shaken that she decided to run away from the facility, taking all the kids with her. It seems quite surprising that she would want to buy the same property and moreover start living there.

When Brightcliffe hospice was bought by her in 1966, the print media covered the news, and everybody knew who owned the place. In all probability, the print media would have covered the development since the site had been in the news for various controversial reasons and at least mentioned Dr. Stanton’s name and her photo in it. But Regina had no clue about her daughter in the year 1968, when Julia met her, a couple of years after the hospice was started. So, it could be possible that either Regina was totally oblivious to what was happening in the outside world, or maybe Dr. Stanton was not Athena after all.

Dr. Stanton had framed the newspaper cutting of the Washington Journal in her room that we saw in the 10th episode of “The Midnight Club.” The newspaper had covered the unveiling ceremony of the Freelan Mansion. Oscar and Vera Freelan owned the place before it was used by Regina Ballard for the purpose of running a cult. The question that arises here is why she framed that news article and kept it in her private space. It still would have made sense if that newspaper cutting was framed and hung on the wall of her office. But keeping it in her private space was a proof of the fact that it meant something more to her. It could be possible that Dr. Stanton was linked to the Freelan family. Maybe she was aware of the ghost of the old lady and the old man that Ilonka and Kevin saw more than often. It is possible that Dr. Stanton had figured out a way to satiate the hunger of the old lady (as Ilonka did refer to her being constantly hungry). It is also possible that Dr. Stanton bought the land on purpose, as she knew that she could increase her lifespan if she fulfilled certain terms and conditions.

You get a feeling when she is looking in the mirror towards the end of the series, “The Midnight Club,” that just like the novel “Frankenstein,” she had gone against the natural sciences and created something using evil powers that she knew would persist. Maybe she had cracked the code to living an immortal life. Maybe she knew things that even Julia Jayne didn’t. The Freelan mansion wasn’t in anybody’s possession for a considerable chunk of time, and then eventually, it was bought by Dr. Stanton in the mid-60s. Maybe in that period, she had figured out that in order to make the magic last for eternity, she had to constantly give the ghosts what they wanted. Maybe the idea of running a hospice originated because of that need. Maybe she was using the terminally ill patients (who mostly didn’t have a family or had a dysfunctional one) for her benefit. Though nothing could be said for certain as of now, we are sure that Dr. Stanton wasn’t somebody who she portrayed to be. “The Midnight Club” Season 1 leaves us on a cliffhanger, and we will probably get to know more about the intentions of the mysterious doctor in the upcoming seasons. Till then, we have to make peace with whatever Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong have decided to leave us with.

See More: The Fictional Stories Of ‘The Midnight Club’ Explained In-Depth

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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