In “Hot Potato Soup,” the latest chapter in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” LMD storyline, the Holden Radcliffe LMD made a stunning revelation: Radcliffe once knew Fitz’s father. Of course, this bombshell may seem small in the grand scheme of the show; after all, the series has unveiled secret Inhuman cities, portals to other planets and a man with a flaming skull. However, following four seasons with little to no information about our agents’ families, the LMD’s confession could define Fitz’s characterization for the rest of the year — and hide an even bigger surprise.
Let’s backtrack a little, first. “Hot Potato Soup” saw Fitz, Simmons and Mack attempting to crack the Radcliffe LMD’s code. Much to his frustration, Fitz found that the LMD’s programming was advanced beyond anything he’d ever seen before. It wasn’t long before he gave up on solving the LMD riddle altogether, but the LMD — which was programmed with Radcliffe’s personality and memories — told Fitz that that was his father talking. The Radcliffe LMD then proceeded to explain that Radcliffe had known Fitz’s father back in Glasgow. Radcliffe and Fitz’s father weren’t close friends, as the LMD explained it, but they did commute together, and Fitz’s father would tell him about his son Leo.
Now, if you think that sounds suspicious, you’re probably right. First of all, Radcliffe has been sitting on this information for almost a year, despite the fact that he and Fitz have grown very close. Considering that 20-something years have passed since Radcliffe was a scientist in Glasgow, it’s also hard to believe he would remember his chance encounters with Fitz’s father so vividly. Add to that the fact that all of this information is being relayed by a robot with a copy of Radcliffe’s memories, and the revelation becomes even more complex.
Nevertheless, Fitz’s reaction to the Radcliffe LMD’s confession is striking and lends credence to what the LMD said. For instance, the LMD confirmed that Radcliffe lived in the same area where Fitz grew up. What’s more, the LMD echoed a sentiment from Fitz’s father. Fitz felt that he could never live up to his father’s expectations, seeing as his father was very critical, and so — when Fitz didn’t believe in himself — the LMD correctly assessed that that sentiment was influenced by Fitz’s father. Both Fitz and Simmons were surprised by the LMD’s comment, which further proves that the LMD’s suppositions were correct.
Over the course of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” four seasons, we’ve learned next to nothing about Fitz’s family. However, in “Hot Potato Soup,” Fitz revealed some key facts about his dad. For one, he abandoned the family when Fitz was ten. He was also extremely critical of his son; despite Fitz’s obvious brilliance, nothing Fitz could do was ever enough for his father. As such, Fitz has become extremely resentful of his father, who he hasn’t seen in decades. So, since Radcliffe has brought up Fitz’s father up now, the show seems prepared to delve into Fitz’s past — and what better way to flesh out Fitz’s past than revealing that Radcliffe is actually Fitz’s father?
Since his introduction in Season 3, Radcliffe has been portrayed as morally ambiguous at best. Fitz and Simmons initially met him in an underground — and very illegal — club, where scientists swapped secrets about cybernetic enhancements. There, Radcliffe was in the market to improve his physical body through any means possible. From there, he earnestly teamed up with Hive, even after Hive divulged his plan to turn unwilling humans into Inhumans; after all, Radcliffe wanted the personal power up. Further, he showed little to no remorse after his genetic experimentation turned humans into Alpha Primitives, or primitive versions of humans who lack free will. Despite his pardon for this past behavior, he continued to work outside the law to create LMDs — and he had no qualms about replacing May with a replica, even though she has made it abundantly clear that she wanted no part of it.
That being the case, is it so hard to believe that Radcliffe would abandon his family in pursuit of his own ambitions? He practically rejected his own humanity to “improve” life as he knows it. What’s more, he has proved that he’s capable of forming attachments, even if he prioritizes his work; in “Boom,” Coulson and Mack discovered Agnes, who was in a relationship with Radcliffe until she developed a rare brain cancer. Upon discovering her fatal disease, Radcliffe worked tirelessly to find a cure, to the point where Agnes told him to choose either her or his work. He ultimately went with his work, and Agnes broke things off with him. Radcliffe certainly had good intentions with this project — he wanted to use technology to save her — but it took precedence to his actual relationship with her. While he can and does form relationships with other people, his work will always come first.
Further, Radcliffe took a special interest in Fitz right off the bat. While that could certainly be chalked up to their shared love of science, Radcliffe has made one big distinction with Fitz. Just before Fitz confirmed his suspicion that the Radcliffe in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody was an LMD, the Radcliffe LMD repeated: “You’re like a son to me.” If Radcliffe’s LMD is to be believed, then Radcliffe made one hell of a leap over the course of six months. He went from barely knowing Fitz to considering him “like a son” in a very brief period of time, and he hasn’t forged a bond like that with any other S.H.I.E.L.D. members. Radcliffe’s fixation on Fitz could indicate something deeper just below the surface — and could even suggest that Fitz had a prior connection to him.
There is, of course, the matter of Radcliffe’s name. As you’ve probably realized by this point, it doesn’t look or sound remotely close to “Fitz.” However, Radcliffe’s whole existence has been shady and duplicitous, so it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if it ended up “Holden Radcliffe” was a fake name.
As to the fact that Fitz doesn’t recognize him, the show makes it abundantly clear that Fitz’s father hasn’t been in Fitz’s life for decades. Since Fitz hasn’t seen his father since he was a young child, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t recognize him once time and age are factored in. If Radcliffe is, indeed, Fitz’s father, one must take into account the fact that Radcliffe has also undergone cybernetic enhancements. While that hasn’t made him look less-than-human, it could very well have impacted his appearance. There are a lot of variables here that could contribute to Fitz being unable to recognize his father so many years later.
The Radcliffe LMD’s revelation about Fitz’s father could have major impact on the show moving forward. If Radcliffe is revealed to be Fitz’s father, that would make the LMD storyline that much more personal to the core cast of characters. Seeing as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is set to close the LMD storyline tonight, such a revelation would bring Aida and her reign of terror that much closer to home for Fitz. No matter what, Radcliffe’s secrets are sure to come to light as Season 4 comes to a close.
Airing Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and more.
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