Apple TV’s comedy-drama series The Big Door Prize begins with a very interesting premise, with an element of the supernatural mixed in. The plot follows the citizens of a small town named Deerfield, where a seemingly magical machine appears overnight, telling people their true potential in life. As most of the people are gravely affected by this new mechanical fortune-teller, the protagonist, Dusty, is unconvinced of such beliefs, all while he too starts to get affected by the phenomenon. Adapted from the novel written by M.O. Walsh’s novel, The Big Door Prize is visually appealing but too indulgent in the drama that it tries to create.
‘The Big Door Prize’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
On the morning of his fortieth birthday, Dusty is surprised by his beloved wife Cass and their teenage daughter Trina with an assortment of forty different gifts. Among them is a new electric scooter, which Dusty has been wanting for quite some time now, and the man excitedly rides it to his work at Deerfield High School. Dusty is a teacher of history, and he is much loved by most of his students and co-workers. On his way to school, the man stops at the local grocery store to fetch some coffee, as is his normal routine. But at the store, Dusty sees something new and flashy kept in the middle of the place, and upon enquiring, he gets to know that the machine had randomly appeared one day. This machine, with bright blue lights emanating from the back and a big butterfly painted on it, is named Morpho. The store owner, Mr. Johnson, says that the machine is a real marvel that is starting to get quite popular among the townsfolk, for it has the ability to state people’s potential in life.
Although Dusty avoids using the machine or believing that it has the ability to predict absolute truth, he notices the change that this machine brings among his students and the rest of the people in Deerfield. Seeing the excitement and positivity that most of the residents now suddenly start to express, Dusty decides to give the machine a try himself. In exchange for some loose change, his Social Security Number, and his fingerprints, the Morpho machine predicts that Dusty’s potential in life is to be a “teacher/whistler.” Starting to feel a certain insecurity since he has already reached his supposed potential, Dusty wants to encourage people to stop putting their faith in the ridiculous machine.
How Does The Morpho Machine Create A Stronghold Over The Residents Of Deerfield?
The effect that the Morpho machine has on the residents of Deerfield is instantaneous and overpowering, for it no longer remains restricted to a level of minor entertainment. After using the machine and collecting the shiny blue cards with their potentials printed on them, people start to push their own lives to reach those potentials, often taking a completely different route than their current lives. The grocery owner, Mr. Johnson, for example, gets his potential to be a magician and admits that he finally understands why he has been collecting books of magic since childhood. The man now starts to do magic shows and even performs on stage, even though he is not very good at it. Cass’s best friend, Nat, gets her potential as a “storyteller,” and the woman is ecstatic about this, for she has always wanted to pursue a similar interest, and she is already considered by everyone as a storyteller and writer.
Cass gets on her Morpho card the word “royalty,” and this immediately gives the woman a boost in her life. Until now, Cass had been running her own business of making and selling t-shirts and other decorative items at her mother’s store. Now, after being promised royalty by the future-telling machine, she starts to make her own royal fortune by making t-shirts based on everyone’s Morpho cards. Towards the end, Cass also takes on the possibility of a leader that the word “royal” might also suggest, and she decides to hold a gala fundraiser only to establish herself as a leader in the town. Although this fund is to be donated to one young teenager who would be supported with the money to reach their promised potential, the fundraiser ultimately turns out to be a failure, as people are not convinced by her self-proclaimed greatness.
There are also individuals who lie about the potential they get from the machine in an attempt to hide their real selves, which the Morpho somehow magically got to know. Cass’s mother, Izzy, claims that she has got her potential as a “dancer,” as the woman once used to be a dancer with a promising career early in her life. However, Izzy had actually gotten “ghost” on her card, which was probably more appropriate since she had a habit of abandoning critical personal situations. Her granddaughter, and Cass and Dusty’s daughter, Trina, had gotten her Morpho potential as “liar” since she had been cheating on her ex-boyfriend, but she hides this and instead says that she is destined to be a potter.
Other characters are also affected by the Morpho machine in comedic ways, like the principal of the school, Pat, who suddenly starts riding a motorcycle to school and around town, as the machine had told her that this was her potential. A student of Dusty’s is enthralled by the possibility that he is to become a meteorologist, even though Dusty keeps telling his students not to focus on such predictions. Another student, Jacob, is told that his potential is to be a hero, but the teenager is confused about it as his twin brother, who was always considered more heroic, had recently died in a car crash. Jacob’s father, Beau, breaks down his entire garage to remodel it into a sheriff’s office, as he is predicted to be one. Giorgio, the owner of a local Italian restaurant and a boastful ex-hockey player, is extremely happy with his potential to be a “superstar,” and he continues trying to be the center of attraction for everyone.
What Do Dusty And Cass Decide About The Future Of Their Marital Relationship?
The marital relationship between Dusty and Cass comes under duress, or at least goes through a difficult patch, after the emergence of the Morpho machine. It is evident that Cass is someone who prefers change in her life, especially after she is promised a life of royalty, and she is always looking forward to betterment both in professional and personal walks of life. On the other hand, Dusty is a man who seems to like settlement—he is happy being a teacher for high school students and a warm, loving husband for twenty years at a stretch. In their romantic relationship, too, Dusty is almost like the same person who proposed to Cass on top of a Ferris wheel and then bought her soft toys for the next twenty years.
Cass is not very settled in such a life; she doesn’t even like the puffin soft toys that her husband gifts her every year. Despite not being serious about it, Cass is sometimes flattered by the attention that Giorgio gives her in his constant effort to romantically pursue her. She keeps talking about the two months she had spent in Italy for an academic course, and it really seems like Cass cherishes that time of her life as the best part. Had she not returned to the US and got married to Dusty, then her life could have been very different and probably far away from the small town of Deerfield. This thought had never left the woman’s mind, and now, after the emergence of the Morpho machine, Cass is all the more unsettled by this promise of potential.
There is undoubtedly a lot of love between Dusty and Cass from both sides. In fact, the reason why Dusty always knew that his wife loved puffins was that, during their initial days of romance, he had suggested how much he loved puffins, and Cass had only agreed to this. Cass admits that the reason she said so was because she wanted him to like her. Even though their romance had indeed been like a fairytale in the beginning, or even in the first few years, the same fervor did not last. Ever since getting a very modest and mediocre potential on his Morpho card, Dusty had started to question whether he was the one holding his wife back from reaching royalty in some way. He even remembers the last time he had faced any thrilling challenge in life, when he had gone skiing at a place called Whistler, and he cherishes that memory. At the end of The Big Door Prize, Dusty tells Cass about this, and it seems like the two decide to take a break from their marital relationship.
What Happens Between Trina And Jacob?
The young teenagers, Trina and Jacob, were both in an uncomfortable situation from the beginning of the series, as they were both mourning the loss of Kolton, who had recently died in a car accident. Kolton was the twin brother of Jacob, and he had also been the boyfriend of Trina. However, Kolton was not a very sincere or emotionally available boyfriend, and he was more into doing wild and brave things with his friends. As it happened, Jacob provided support and company to Trina more than his twin brother would, and then the two started a romantic relationship behind Kolton’s back. After the teenager’s death, both are struck by an overwhelming sense of guilt, believing that they had something to do with the death, and both struggle even after the arrival of the Morpho machine. Trina is constantly reminded of her betrayal through the word “liar” printed on her Morpho card, and she is certain that this is the world’s way of punishing her for being a cheating and lying person. Jacob’s struggle is more indirect, though, as he is destined to be a “hero,” even though it was his brother who would have fitted more into this role. Therefore, Jacob is indirectly made to feel guilty for having cheated on his brother and he is extremely remorseful about the whole situation.
But despite their struggles, Trina and Jacob also cannot stay away from the love and passion they feel for each other. On every occasion of deep reflection, they cannot blame themselves for what they have decided to do, even if they want to. Gradually, Trina confesses everything to her parents in an attempt to not be a liar any longer. She also confesses to Kolton’s grieving father, Beau, about the same, and the man then also gets to know that Jacob was involved in all this. Despite feeling bad for Kolton, Beau decides to support his only son, Jacob, now and also his girlfriend, Trina. As both sides are ironed out, the teenagers start to date each other in the open, not caring about what others think of them now that their respective parents are aware of their relationship. In the end, as the Deerfest festivities are in full swing amidst a fast-approaching storm, Trina and Jacob go on their first public date. Although they do question how long their relationship will last, as such predictions of the future are impossible to make, the two stay together and become a couple.
How Had Hana Kept Her Identity A Secret?
In The Big Door Prize, two other characters named Reuben and Hana have also been quite central throughout the plot. Reuben, or Father Reuben as he is called, is the priest at the local church, and Hana happens to be a bartender at Giorgio’s restaurant. After making acquaintance with each other, Reuben and Hana felt a connection and seemed inclined to get together. After many efforts to keep away, Reuben finally got his potential checked at the Morpho machine, and it showed him a result of “father.” He then revealed that many years ago, when he was mentally struggling after the death of his beloved wife, the man would get into violent fights on a regular basis. At this time, Reuben had suddenly come across a similar Morpho machine at a different town, which had predicted his life’s potential to be a priest. It was for this reason that Reuben moved to Deerfield and became a religious father at the local church.
At present, Reuben starts to contemplate whether the word “father” could also mean to be a biological father, and as part of professing his love for Hana, he decides to give up the priesthood and start a family with the woman. A major point of attraction for Reuben was that Hana had stated that she did not at all believe in the Morpho machine, or any blind faith for that matter, and Reuben had remarked how Hana was the only person in the town who did not need his presence. However, Hana now reveals something about her past that she had hidden from the townsfolk for all this time. She tells Reuben that she was present in the same town where the man had found his calling for the priesthood; Hana was the bartender at the same bar where Reuben had most of his fights. This meant that the woman had actually been in a different town while the mysterious Morpho machine had been there, and she clearly knew something more about it.
‘The Big Door Prize’ Ending Explained: What Happens to the Morpho Machine?
When the Morpho machine appeared at Deerfield for the first time, it had been left behind by someone at the back of Mr. Johnson’s store. Believing that the machine could be a new point of attraction, he made a place for it inside his shop. Over time, there had been people, especially young teenagers, who had tried to break the machine down in order to understand it. Johnson had always been the one to stop them, but towards the end, he himself seems to lose balance and attacks the Morpho machine. He tries to pry open the machine with a sword but is instead left with a severe cardiac arrest and has to be rushed to the hospital.
At the very end of The Big Door Prize season 1, the entire town loses electricity as heavy rains start to pour as part of the menacing storm that is fast approaching. As the townsfolk all walk back towards their homes, though, they notice a bright blue light from Mr. Jonson’s store. They find the Morpho machine glowing brighter than ever, even though there is no electricity, and as Dusty and Cass go to read its screen, they are asked by the machine whether the town is ready for the imminent next stage. In this while, Hana had driven away from the restaurant and was on her way out of town when she almost crashed into a wild deer. In an attempt to save the animal, she had to swerve her car, and from the impact, she ended up facing Deerfield once again. Taking this as some sort of hint and also glancing at Kolton’s memorial, for it was here that the teenager had lost his life, Hana drove back to Deerfield. Arriving at the general store, she tells the confused townsfolk that the machine had never done something like this before. While the series does not indulge more in this and ends the first season with this cliffhanger, it is very evident that Hana actually knew far more about the Morpho machine and could even be an expert on it.
It is also revealed at the very end that Hana’s back is covered with numerous blue blister-like marks, which seem to have outlined a big butterfly symbol on her back. Similar-looking blisters had also started to grow on Dusty’s body ever since he first heard of the machine. Although The Big Door Prize does not yet reveal what these marks mean, it seems like these blisters grow only on people who genuinely do not have faith in Morpho’s magical powers. Or it could also be that those who internally believed the machine’s predictions but were too proud to admit this or let the predictions have any effect on their lives were the ones getting it.
What Can We Expect From ‘The Big Door Prize’ Season 2?
Since Apple TV has already confirmed a second season for The Big Door Prize, and also since all questions and matters from the first season are left unanswered, the second season of the drama show will be one to look forward to. More revelations about Hana and her knowledge about the Morpho machine are definitely to be expected. The woman had mysteriously been present in two different towns at the exact time when the machine had magically appeared there, and she might have had some involvement in this as well. The meaning of the blue marks growing on Dusty’s body and what effect they might have on the protagonist’s life is also to be seen in the next season. Also, the possibility of the Morpho machine being a large-scale scam, since it was collecting extremely personal data like people’s Social Security numbers and also fingerprints, cannot be overlooked. Although it was made clear that it was not sending this data anywhere, since the grocery store did not have any active internet connection, what the machine does by storing such data is quite concerning. In the personal drama aspect as well, whether Dusty and Cass actually break up, and go to Whistler and Italy, respectively, is to be seen. There were moments in The Big Door Prize season 1 when it felt like the screenplay was making the characters feel or act a certain way only to take its plot forward. Hopefully, season 2 will do away with such forced portrayals and present a better iteration.