The nefarious head of Hydra, Gideon Malick, was murdered by Daisy Johnson just last week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but lest you worry there be some sort of temporary power vacuum, a new shadowy player has already arisen to fill the hole he left behind. Played by Scottish actor John Hannah (known for the Mummy film trilogy and the TV show Damages), the new character is named Holden Radcliffe — a name that will probably cause most viewers to scratch their heads in befuddlement. Who is Holden Radcliffe on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. , and what does he want?
I have both good news and bad news for you. The good news is, Holden Radcliffe is a character from Marvel Comics, so there is information about him out there to be gleaned. The bad news? That information raises just as many questions as it does answers. Radcliffe was first introduced on the page relatively recently, in a 2005 issue of the relatively obscure series Machine Teen. Radcliffe is a minor antagonist in that series, a businessman who is obsessed with the idea of turning androids into an army of super soldiers. When one of his scientists goes rogue and creates a son named A.D.A.M. (for Autonomously Decisive Automated Mechanism), Radcliffe is obsessed with getting his "stolen" technology back.
Given that description of the character, it's easy to assume that Radcliffe will be yet another secondary antagonist serving under Hive, someone to essentially occupy the vacancy left by Malick. But is that the case, or is the MCU giving us a new twist on this comics character? Let's look at the press release for his debut episode, "The Singularity," for clues:
The S.H.I.E.L.D. team is left reeling and decimated as Hive continues to sway Inhumans to his side. But there is a sliver of hope as Agents Fitz and Simmons follow a lead that may be able to stop the maniacal Inhuman once and for all.
So what the heck does a man in the android business have to do with this Hive plot? Well, it's possible that Radcliffe will be associated with Transia, the shady tech company introduced on S.H.I.E.L.D. a couple of weeks ago. But is it also possible that he's here to help the team and not hurt them? The description of "The Singularity" does mention a way to "stop the maniacal Inhuman once and for all." Could Radcliffe be the key to that solution?
What would an android expert have to offer in the battle against Hive? Given that Hive's powers allow him to kill any human and enslave any Inhuman on a whim, it's easy to see how androids could be useful. A mechanical being would presumably not dissolve into goo at Hive's touch, nor would it be susceptible to his mind control powers. Then again, given that Hive's master plan involves raising an army to conquer the world, Radcliffe could easily be working in the villain's employ instead, helping him build a troop of androids to supplement his squad of brainwashed Inhumans.
So which is it? Will Radcliffe be helping S.H.I.E.L.D. or will he be helping Hive? We'll have to wait until this Tuesday's episode to find out… but whichever side he ends up on, it seems as though he'll remain a major presence throughout the rest of Season 3, since Hannah is also credited in the following two episodes, "Failed Experiments" and "Emancipation." Hopefully this version of Radcliffe winds up being a little nicer than his comics counterpart.