‘The Big Door Prize’ Recap Before Season 2: Everything That Happens In Season 1


Media has always been a great representation of the world, and The Big Door Prize is an example of a very current show. On the surface, it appears to be a comedy about a grown-up who has suddenly lost his purpose in life and doesn’t know how to deal with it, just like the rest of his little town. But it’s a show that treads lightly into our immediate future. What I mean by this is a world in which technology can command our perception of ourselves. Yes, The Big Door Prize is a comedy, but for the most part, it’s quite a tragic tale that somehow keeps moving further and further toward impending doom. It’s a show that makes you wonder if, as humans, we’re only meant to live up to our potential or if “potential” is simply a myth that pushes us to try to get outside our comfort zone. Quite deep, I know. Maybe I’m one of those people who reads too much into things. Or maybe this is actually a decent show. If you’re even slightly into sci-fi and want something fluffy to watch, then The Big Door Prize might just scratch that itch for you. If you’ve already seen season one and need a quick reminder of what you need to keep in mind for season 2, then let me help jog your memory.

Spoiler Alert

What’s MORPHO? 

In a small town called “Deerfield,” a magical machine appears in the middle of the night in the convenience store. Nobody knows how or where it came from, and Jacob, the kid who found it, set it up without reading the manual or anything. Soon, we learn that the MORPHO machine, which is cobalt blue and has a butterfly plastered on its front, gives people their “life potential.” If you insert 2 dollars, enter your social security number and your handprints, the machine plops out a card that reads your life potential on it (talk about unquestioningly giving away all your details, tsk tsk). In about 5 minutes, the whole town begins to rave about this machine and tries to find their life’s potential. It’s like when Facebook just started, and everyone was asking to be friends. “What does your card say?” is a question that not everyone enjoys, of course. With something like this, it’s only natural for some people to have negative potential, and our lead character’s high school daughter faces this shame. What kind of mess can one machine put people in? Apparently, it’s some deep stuff. 

Who are the Hubbards? 

The main lead of this show is your friendly neighborhood history teacher, who is both charmingly witty and a little bit socially awkward, making for the perfect comedy lead. Of course, at the beginning of the show, he’s just turned 40, and what better way to start a midlife crisis than with your life’s potential in your hands? But we’ll get to that in a bit. Dusty is a loving father and a wonderful husband, as it goes. His wife is Cass, and his daughter is Trina. At first, Dusty doesn’t want to know his potential because he thinks he’s deeply content with his life. On his 40th birthday, he gets 40 presents from his wife, one of which is a theremin, something he apparently didn’t ask for, which is so disillusioning! After seeing that the whole town is buzzing about the MORPHO, Cass included, Dusty can’t help but try it for himself. What he discovers, though, is nothing new for him. Apparently, he’s already fulfilled his life’s potential as a “teacher/whistler.” While a lot of people learn something new about themselves, Dusty has to be content with what he’s already got. Whistler, we find out later, is a place where Dusty worked at a ski resort. I suppose this might come in handy in the second season because by the end of the season, he talks about it a lot. 

Cass has “royalty,” and Trina, we learn later, got “liar.” The family kind of changes after their potential is revealed. Mostly, it’s Cass who wants to desperately feel seen, specifically by Dusty, who seems to have misunderstood a lot about her this whole time. She also has a terrible relationship with her mother, Izzy, who is the town mayor and is always rejoicing at her daughter’s losses. It’s like seeing the little blue card Cass finally remembers to put herself first. Cass even hosts a fundraiser to support one young “Deerfieldian” to achieve their potential, to which she wears a stunning-looking blue butterfly gown. Seeing as how the machine completely transforms the townspeople, it becomes somewhat of a mess. All the adults start to behave like teenagers, quitting their jobs that they’ve been doing all their lives in order to pursue something spit at them by a blue glowing machine. 

Who is Jacob? 

Trina is secretly dating a boy named Jacob, who happens to be the twin brother of the boy she was actually dating in front of everybody (yikes!). What’s worse is that Jacob’s brother died in an accident only a year earlier, and there’s a lot of anxiety in the boy; however, he gets the potential “hero.” Jacob and his father, Beau, have the worst relationship because Jacob lost his mother recently, too, and his father basically left him to parent himself since death knocked on their door. Somehow, the MORPHO helps Beau find happiness again, and he builds a salon because he’s meant to be a sheriff and actually starts to listen to Jacob. By the end of the first season, Trina faces her fears, thanks to her father’s advice, calling the potential card just an “arrow” that points you in the right direction rather than being the destination and letting the whole school know that she and Jacob are seeing each other and that she cheated. It’s quite a liberating experience for her, but it also allows Jacob and her to actually go out on a real date. 

What Are the Strange Blue Dots? 

Dusty has a few blue dots on his backside that keep increasing in number as the MORPHO gets more popular. For the most part, most of what the machine does is left unexplained in the first season. Giorgio (he’s not even Italian, just his stepdad is) is Dusty and Cass’ childhood friend, and he’s got the hots for Cass. His potential is “superstar,” and he tries really hard to impress Cass by helping her with her fundraiser and all that, but Cass rejects him. However, by the end of the series, it’s really not clear if Dusty and Cass are okay because it seems they never really knew each other or themselves, for that matter, and maybe need some time apart to figure that out. Giorgio, on the other hand, finds potential love in Natalie, the “storyteller” and Cass’ best friend. 

What Happens Between Hana and Father Reuben? 

Hana is the stranger in the town; she’s the only person who agrees never to try the MORPHO machine, but it turns out she’s come from a town that had the machine before. We know this because Deerfield’s very own priest found a potential card in the town Hana previously lived in. Reuben had lost his way and purpose because his wife had just died, and the card had helped him get out of a slump and find a new purpose in life. When he actually used the MORPHO machine, it read “father,” and the whole town thinks it’s because he was meant to be a priest, but he wanted to be a dad. By the end of the series, Hana and Reuben kind of fall for each other, and he tells her that he wants to stop being a priest. When they get talking, he finds out that she was the bartender who kicked him out for drinking too much alcohol on the night he found the MORPHO card. When he learns that she knew what the MORPHO was before, he’s disappointed that she hasn’t said anything to the people about it. 

There Are Deer in Deerfield? 

There’s a running joke in the show that Deerfield should be called just Field because there are no deer there. However, within the last few episodes, both Izzy and Hana see white deer in the town. For Izzy, it happens when she tells the whole town that her daughter is a fraud who is making money over a machine and even making fake cards. She tells the town that the machine is a scam because Jacob told her that even if you put in the wrong social security number or used your face instead of her fingerprints, the machine would still give you the same potential. 

At the end of season 1 of The Big Door Prize, Hana decides to leave town, but as she’s passing the town signage, her radio acts up, and she almost hits a deer, leading her to swivel to the other side. She notices a storm coming and decides she can’t leave the town. I suppose she knows something nobody else knows because she’s seen the machine before. In the meantime, while everyone is at Deerfest (my gosh, with the deer), Izzy learns that Mr. Johnson, the convenience store owner, had a heart attack and has her listed as his only contact. Mr. Johnson was given the potential to be a magician, but Izzy revealed the stuff about the machine during his show, making him feel terrible about himself in front of the whole town. This is probably why she feels especially guilty hearing that he has no one else. What she doesn’t know is that Mr. Johnson tried to break the machine when he got shocked and had a heart attack. Three blue dots also appeared on his neck. I suppose anyone who doesn’t really believe in the MORPHO’s “powers” gets the blue dots on their body. At the end of the series, Hana turns back from the town’s end and returns to the shop, where the whole town is fascinated by the machine again. Dusty and Cass look into it, and it says, “Are you ready for the next step?” The machine also looks different, larger and more exaggerated. Hana enters the shop, revealing multiple blue glowing dots on her back, saying the machine’s never done that before. Hopefully, season 2 will give us some answers regarding the MORPHO. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This