The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3: With the growing uncertainties in our lives, we are becoming increasingly cautious about every choice we make. Be it in terms of the planet’s future or ours, we are more anxious than ever before. The abundance of choices is one of the reasons for our misery. What if I had chosen to be someone else? What if we are not living up to our complete potential? ‘The Big Door Prize’ addresses these existential queries.

Based on the book of the same name by M.O. Walsh, this series follows the lives of residents of a small American town. This comedy-drama, starring Chris O’Dowd, Gabrielle Dennis, Damon Gupton, Ally Maki, Sammy Fourlas, and Josh Segarra, has just launched its three-episode premiere on Apple TV+.

Spoilers ahead.

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episode 1 Recap:

Episode 1: Dusty

In a grocery store in a quaint American town, a strange machine appears out of nowhere. It asks for a person’s fingerprints and their social security code in exchange for revealing their true life potential.

It changes people’s self-perception and makes them reevaluate their life choices. One of these people is Dusty Hubbard (Chris O’Dowd), a schoolteacher and a family man who lives with his wife, Cass (Gabrielle Dennis), and their daughter, Trina (Djouliet Amara).

Despite having just turned 40, he feels like a hero because of his wife, who constantly boosts his spirits. He drives his scooter to school and, on the way, stops at the local grocery store. That’s when he stumbles upon Morpho, the mysterious machine.

He does not try it himself but learns later in school that many of his students did. These students suddenly consider the potential written on their cards as their life’s goal. It bothers Dusty, but he lets it slide and gets back to teaching them history lessons.

Later, during his birthday dinner at a restaurant, Cass shows intrigue about this machine. She talks about her friend, Nat, who got Storyteller on her card and considered it her calling. Dusty shuns that decision and calls Nat a gossiper than a storyteller.

Giorgio (Josh Segarra) suddenly joins the couple at their table. He mentions getting ‘Superstar’ written on his card. He finds it apt considering his past as the first Italian-American goalie in New York Rangers history, which he often brags about. He hits on Cass but gets no response. She instead praises Dusty’s skills as a whistler. So, Giorgio leaves their table.

After dinner, Dusty tries playing some arcade games. But he fails repeatedly to score anything. Cass still gives him reassurance, which makes him even more miserable. Back at home, they have sex with each other. Not long after that, she asks if he can do it again. He starts off with confidence but soon gets distracted by the thought of Morpho.

So, he stops her midway. The next morning, after having a shower, he notices three blue dots on one of his buttcheeks. It keeps him distracted throughout the day. Unlike his usual cheerful spirit, he stays gloomy the entire day.

At school, Principal Pat (Cocoa Brown) brags about her result of being a Biker. She sees it as her ambitious retirement plan, while Father Reuben (Damon Gupton) does not share her enthusiasm about it. He rather quotes a passage that conveys how one likes to believe in something that is too good to be true.

Then, while walking back to his class, Dusty stumbles upon a card thrown in the dustbin that says ‘Liar.’ It makes him even more miserable. What if he gets the same result? What if he does not even try to get a result? He reflects upon it.

Later, he meets his student Jacob (Sammy Fourlas), who has a history of family trauma. So Dusty informs him he can skip their next lecture on Henry I because it discusses a violent conflict between two brothers. Jacob says that he won’t have any issue with it. Then Dusty initiates a dialogue about the Morpho machine and where it came from, considering Jacob works at the same store. But Jacob does not want to talk about it.

After the lecture, when Dusty returns home, he finds Cass upset about their embarrassing night. But there’s more to it. Since everyone is discovering their life’s potential, she wonders if being a suburban teacher’s wife is living her life to the fullest.

He gets upset over the thought that she is unhappy in her life with him. Meanwhile, at the store, angry customers gather, hoping to get a return on what they spent for Morpho since they did not like the result they got.

The store manager, Mr. Johnson (Patrick Kerr), says that his result was a Magician, which is something that he always has had a passion for. He tries to restore their belief in their results. The next day at school, Dusty tells his students to take out a paper and create two sections – ‘I am’ and ‘I will be’ to figure out their potential by themselves and not give in to Morpho’s results. Instead, the students make Dusty question himself and his life choices.

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episode 1 Ending, Explained:

What does Morpho tell as Dusty’s life potential?

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Recap & Ending, Explained

Later at the bar, Dusty tries to ease his pain with alcohol. He finds Father Reuben at a table and asks him about the dots that he found on his body. The Father advises him to see a doctor instead. The dialogue soon leads toward the craze for the Morpho machine and its results.

Dusty finds it absurd that people are reshaping their entire lives based on what is written on a card. He recalls moving from Ireland as a kid and seeing his current life as a fulfilling one. Why does there have to be more to it? He wonders.

Even Cass isn’t satisfied with being content just with what they have, which makes Dusty even more upset. The Father recounts an old passage that basically suggests how the option of having a choice reminds people that there is more than one possible path in their lives. Dusty still chooses to ignore the Morpho results and goes back home. But he wakes up in the middle of the night, restless, and decides to walk up to the shop to check his result. Surprisingly, unlike others, Dusty gets a result that he already is – ‘Teacher/Whistler.’

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episode 2 Recap:

Episode 2: Cass

After following Dusty’s midlife crisis, the second episode follows Cass’s story. Due to her friend Nat’s (Mary Holland) insistence to check her life’s potential on Morpho, Cass tries out her luck. The card says that her life’s potential is to be Royalty.

What does that even mean? How is she supposed to process this knowledge while she is living a mundane life? She wonders. Later at home, at night, Dusty returns from the store and shows his result. He was upset the moment he saw the result since he thought there was no other way his life could be like.

But after a walk, he thinks it is actually fine. It means that he does not have to worry about being anyone else. She shows her card saying Royalty but lies that she checked her result only after he asked her about it. The next day, she goes to her mother, Izzy’s (Crystal Fox) gift accessory shop, and hands over a new box of graphic T-shirts she printed out.

Izzy does not find her stuff appealing, as always. It upsets Cass, who shares her Morpho. It does not sit well with Izzy, who feels that Cass would thereafter start asking for special treatment.

Back in school, the students cannot pay attention to Dusty’s history lesson since they are distracted by thoughts about the Morpho. One student thinks that it is just a data mining tool since it asks for fingerprints and social security numbers.

While none of them knows how the machine got there, most of them approve of its assessment. Dusty tries to make them see another side – they can change their potential, and it does not have to be fixed. The students still see the results as their destiny.

Jacob chimes in, saying that destiny means something is going to happen, and potential shows possibility. But he refuses to tell his result and suddenly storms out of the room. He puts on his headphones and goes to the nearby woods. He suddenly hears some noises and walks there to find Principal Pat lying on the ground with her motorcycle.

Apparently, she crashed her bike while trying to live her potential as a biker. He calls for help and manages to save her. But this heroic act upsets him instead of making him feel good about himself.

Back home, Dusty and Cass have dinner with both of their parents. While Dusty is cynical about the Morpho craze, Cass isn’t. But she is unhappy with how Izzy keeps shunning her spirits. Izzy, meanwhile, is happy getting her result as a dancer, which she already was for years. Trina learns that her life’s potential is to be a Potter.

Suddenly, Dusty’s parents- Eloise (Deirdre O’Connell) and Cary (Jim Meskimen), announce their divorce after decades of marriage. While Dusty is upset by it, they are elated to live their lives to their full potential.

Eloise gets ‘Healer’ on her card and, thus, wants to travel Europe honing this skill. Dusty notes the irony since, as a doctor, she is already a healer. Eloise, however, does not want to continue living that boring life. She wants to explore other options, and so does Cary, who gets ‘Male Model’ on his card.

He mentions having contacted a few model agencies to begin his journey. Dusty is not just angry that his parents are getting a divorce but also because they have other options to choose from, while he has already lived with his option for years.

After dinner, Cary sits perfectly straight while talking to Dusty, as if he has already started practicing ‘being a model.’ But despite Dusty’s awkwardness, Cary takes it a step further and shows his muscular body by taking off his shirt. Meanwhile, Eloise goes back into the kitchen with Cass.

Cass shares her fantastic experience in Italy from her youth to help Eloise with her travel plans. Sensing her evident interest, Eloise motivates Cass to go back to Europe if she craves living there so badly. It at least puts a bug in Cass’ mind about this possibility.

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episode 2 Ending, Explained:

Does Cass decide to pursue her potential as a ‘Royalty’?

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Recap & Ending, Explained

The two ladies go meet the men to tell them to do the dishes. Instead, they find Cary doing his catwalk while Dusty awkwardly sits in the room’s corner. Everyone except Dusty enjoys this showcase. Cass walks into their storage room to find an old book that can help Eloise know the geography and wine options during her travel.

She gifts her this book. Once the parents leave, Dusty confronts Cass about her birthday gift of a theremin. He found it offensive as a statement saying that he is ‘not interesting’ according to her.

Cass sees it as broadening the horizons. But Dusty does not want to leave his comfort zone. He is happy with the way his life is. And unlike Cass, he does not even want to think if his life is happy or not. He does not want to see his life being anything more than what it already is.

Annoyed by Dusty’s reluctance to change or improve, Cass leaves the room. Trina joins her and gets a wine-testing lesson. She understands her mother’s anguish and tells her that the result is important only if she wants to make it.

It makes Cass have a peaceful sleep. However, the next day, she leaves home wearing a T-shirt with ‘Loyalty’ printed on it. She flaunts it all over the neighborhood and also goes to Izzy’s store. She refuses to let her stuff be in the background and changes the positioning herself. She even sells her stuff to a customer by herself while acting like royalty.

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episode 3 Recap:

Episode 3: Jacob

The third episode focuses on Jacob’s story. Earlier, we see him keeping his Morpho result hidden from everyone. Turns out, he was the first one to get a result. He learned that his life’s potential is to be a ‘Hero.’ Mr. Johnson walked in later, wondering how the machine got there. Jacob was just as clueless as him. Besides, he does not reveal his result.

After that strange night, Jacob wakes up to see his father, Beau (Aaron Roman Weiner), making him breakfast. Beau mentions that he quit his job and decided to be a hero like Jacob. But Jacob feels weird that just calling 911 is considered an act of heroism. He isn’t happy with his father making this impulsive decision either.

Later at school, Jacob gets greeted with a warm welcome. Then, Dusty decides to take his students through another exercise. He asks what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln was told that his life’s potential was to be a candy maker.

He tries to make a point of how history would have been shaped differently if Lincoln had not been a US president. He even calls Principal Pat to see the terrible consequences (her accident) of blindly following the card result.

Dusty fails to make a strong case for himself. Nonetheless, during the call, Pat asks if Jacob can dunk the ball in their next basketball game instead of her for his heroic act. It triggers his memories of his late brother, who was a great basketball player.

His classmate, Savannah (Elizabeth Hunter), follows him outside, praising him for his heroic act. But he does not react amicably. Trina, who was his twin brother’s girlfriend, decides to sit out of the basketball game.

Jacob goes to meet Dr. Woods (Carrie Barrett). He opens up about the trauma of his mother’s death and his brother’s tragic accident. That’s why he has developed a habit of keeping his issues bottled up in his mind. He also feels like an imposter for being called a hero for barely doing anything.

Instead of giving him a helpful suggestion, Dr. Woods joins in his misery and says that she is rethinking her career choice after getting the Morpho card saying ‘Undertaker.’ She asks herself if she is even good enough to be a doctor in case that is her life’s potential.

After that strange, unhelpful dialogue, Jacob walks back home to meet Trina, who is helping Beau in his garage. Beau learns that Jacob is doing the dunk and offer to give him a lesson. Unlike his athletic brother, Jacob is not good at playing basketball.

Still, Trina motivates him just enough to want to do the dunk just for her. Later at night, Dusty, Cass, Giorgio, Father Reuben, and Nat get together in the bar and talk about their childhood and the dunk from back then.

As always, Giorgio keeps boasting about himself, hitting on Cass, and ends up insulting Dusty by calling him a ‘generic man.’ The discussion turns to Reuben, who says that he does not want to try the Morpho machine. Giorgio considers it fair since Reuben is so committed to the priesthood that he will most likely end up getting the same written on his card. Meanwhile, Dusty gets annoyed by Giorgio, who says that Cass and him together do not make sense since she got Royalty as her result and he got something inconsequential as Teacher/Whistler.

Cass still stands by Dusty, saying that the result does not mean that it is all that he can be. It inadvertently stresses him. He sees it as her wanting him to be more than who he is. Soon after, she mentions that she likes spicy wings and that they always ordered Honey garlic only because he likes them. He feels cheated that she never told him about this. While they argue about it, Reuben says that he won’t come to the match since he is not a big sports fan.

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episode 3 Ending, Explained:

What does Father Reuben get written on his Morpho card? How does he react to his result?

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Recap & Ending, Explained

Dusty, Cass, Giorgio, and Nat go to see the basketball match in the school as the alumni. Dusty is still hung up on the fact that she kept her choice a secret. She rather sees it as a sense of suspense still being intact even after 23 years of their marriage.

While she makes him feel better about himself and their marriage, Jacob speaks with Trina before the match. He is supposed to do the dunk, whereas she is playing the sousaphone. They make each other feel good and not feel inconsequential about their duties.

Jacob starts walking toward the stadium, wearing his brother’s jersey. Everyone applauds him while he enters. Suddenly, Cass comes into the middle of the stadium and gives Jacob a pep talk. However, unlike his brother, Jacob fails to dunk. The room goes completely silent while Cass & Nat try to cheer them up. Jacob starts walking out, embarrassed by his failure. Right outside, he meets Trina, and they kiss each other.

On the other hand, Reuben goes to the local store to get his result on the Morpho machine. He comes out, upset by his result. Mr. Johnson finds Reuben’s result obvious and a sign that the machine works. However, Reuben walks out of the store and suddenly breaks down on the road. His card falls down from his hand with the result ‘Father.’

He seems clearly upset by the result, and the reason will be clear in the next episode (since it is titled by his name). However, judging by the tone and creative choices of the show, it seems like he is upset about not having another choice.

Related to The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3: Current Apple TV+ Show Recap

The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
The Big Door Prize (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Gabrielle Dennis, Sammy Fourlas, Damon Gupton, Ally Maki, Josh Segarra
Where to watch The Big Door Prize

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