Strange things can and probably will happen when you get all Jack Parsons and combine ancient tomes with advanced machinery. For example: This nasty business with the Darkhold, a book full of magic and corruption, and an enchanted particle generator, which in combination meant bad news for the SHIELD team in “Deals With Our Devils” (Nov. 29).

Moments after Eli Morrow (Jose Zuniga) succeeded in using aforementioned enchanted particle generator to acquire the ability to create matter out of nothing, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), and Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) find themselves knocked out of phase with reality, and into a sepia-tone ghost town where they could see and hear what was going on in the “living” world, but not interact with it — and forced to watch in horror as the rest of the team worried about their safety.

Director Mace (Jason O’Mara) is focused on pulling Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) out of her very classified assignment with Senator Nadeer, so Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) considers a drastic option: Looking to the Darkhold for a solution.

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A certain “sinking sensation” would seem to suggest the three displaced heroes are on the highway to Hell, and Robbie — unlike Agents Coulson and Fitz — was full-on suffering in ghost town, freezing and then eventually flipping out as the Ghost Rider entity inside him started to figure out what was going on… Jumping right out Robbie and right into Mack (Henry Simmons).

Enflamed by the spirit of vengeance, Mack grabs his axe gun and zooms off on his bike to shake down the China Town Gang for leads on Eli Morrow’s location. Daisy (Chloe Bennett), concerned about Mack’s suddenly erratic behavior, jumps right into Robbie’s “scientifically impossible, self-healing” car to follow her once and future partner — and Robbie, unwilling to be left out of the case, haunts her from the passenger seat.

Eventually Robbie calls off a bloodthirsty Ghost Rider before Mack can take out some of the gangsters — GR’s favorite snack — and offers a deal: The spirit will help Robbie settle his scores for good, if Robbie will help him out, too… In HELL!

GR also offered up this bit of character insight: “It’s not ideal, but Mack… He had a lot of pain. He lost hope. I could survive off his pain for years.” Not something we didn’t know, but interesting that it’s back in play. Mack’s such a source of strength and hope for the team that we can forget just how much he’s laboring under himself.

Back in the land of the living, May reasoned that the same Darkhold key to sending people to the ghost dimension should be the one to bring them back. Running to the third-best supergenius she knows, Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah), she was brought up short by his immediate diagnosis, on flipping through the cursed volume: “Too much for a human mind to bear.”

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Considering what Hive put him through, he’s probably the expert. So Ghost-Fitz follows up with a better (and also obviously worse) idea: Aida (Mallory Jansen), Dr. Radcliffe’s android assistant, could read it! Her robot brain would be way better at storing and utilizing ancient dark magic than any dumb ol’ human brain — and certainly nothing terrible will result! — and soon enough, Aida was busy assembling an extra-dimensional gate for the ghostly SHIELD agents to return.

When Robbie returned through the gate and asked Mack to help him settle his last score, which is the kind of thing people do the first time they meet Mack, because he is great. So will Ghost Rider be able to stop Eli Morrow? What was with that holographic brain that Aida was making? What will the Agents of SHIELD do with that extra-dimensional gate they just made?

All this and more in next week’s Winter Finale, probably. At which point hopefully we’ll reconsider whether putting this much energy into the Darkhold did as much publicity for “Doctor Strange” as it’s going to, and move on — because unless we’re getting Peggy Carter, “Agent Carter’s” Whitney Frost, or hints about the upcoming “Cloak & Dagger” show, all of whom have direct ties to the Darkforce/Darkhold Dimension, we are just about done with this ghost magic hell stuff. There’s an Inhuman War going on, for Black Bolt’s sake!

“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Posted by:Trey Dill