The Big Door Prize season finale spits out cliffhangers large and small [Apple TV+ recap]


Chris O’Dowd and Gabrielle Dennis in ★★★★☆
Surprise! The Morpho machine has even bigger mysteries to spin.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewThe Big Door Prize closes its first season with a blackout at Deerfest and a big twist from the Morpho. The show, about a mysterious machine that reads people’s futures, throws harsh weather and hard truths at its cast of misfit townies this week.

Father Reuben and Hana experience a few troubling realizations. Cass and Izzy have another blow-up. Jacob and Trina try to make it through their first real date. And more than one storm is brewing in this compelling cap to a winning season of a wonderful show.

The Big Door Prize recap: ‘Deerfest: Part Two’

Season 1, episode 10: At the start of the season finale, entitled “Deerfest: Part Two,” Mr. Johnson (played by Patrick Kerr) might be dead. In last week’s episode of The Big Door Prize, the general store owner and protector of the Morpho finally got tired of the machine’s mysteries, and shoved a sword inside to open it up. The machine electrocuted him. Now an ambulance has been called.

The curious thing: Mr. Johnson had blue dots on his skin, as if he was having an allergic reaction to the Morpho itself. If you’ll remember, Dusty Hubbard (Chris O’Dowd) had those same blue dots on his body, too. He’s has had no luck divining their meaning so far.

On edge at Deerfest

Meanwhile, at Deerfest, Dusty, his wife Cass (Gabrielle Dennis), their daughter Trina (Djouliet Amara), her boyfriend Jacob (Sammy Fourlas) and his dad Beau (Aaron Roman Weiner) are trying to enjoy themselves.

Jacob and Trina are aware that everyone is going to be looking at them strangely. That’s because they finally opened up about the fact that, before Jacob’s twin died, Trina was cheating on him with Jacob, and they’ve been secretly dating. It is a secret no longer, much to the chagrin of Trina’s friend Savannah (Elizabeth Hunter), who had a crush on Jacob. She spies them canoodling and gives them a death glare.

Cass is also on guard because she and her mom, Mayor Izzy (Crystal Fox), are on the outs. Izzy gave people the impression that her daughter was scamming the people of Deerfield. So people are giving Cass dirty looks, too. She finally tries to stand up for herself in front of a crowd of people and makes quite the scene.

When Izzy comes over to break it up, Cass drags her away to try and ensure they have a heart-to-heart. But as usual, Izzy rejects the opportunity. Cass leaves her in the hay maze, where she gets immediately lost.

Well, that’s awkward

Father Rueben (Damon Gupton) and Hana (Ally Maki) are having their own awkward moment. He’s decided he doesn’t want to be a priest, and they’ve started kissing, but then she stops them and they talk. He starts telling her that he feels like his path has been leading him to this moment.

Then she accidentally lets slip that she was in a town once that also had a Morpho machine, and she’s been lying about it. Not only that, she was present for Rueben’s lowest moment (a bender) and didn’t tell him.

She gets in her car and drives off, almost hitting a deer on her way out of town. She winds up right in front of the memorial dedicated to Jacob’s dead twin, Colton.

The night the lights went out in Deerfield

Just then, lightning strikes a generator, killing the town’s power and stranding Dusty and Cass at the top of the Ferris wheel. Giorgio (Josh Segarra) commandeers a crane and gets everyone to safety, but not before Dusty and Cass have a brief and touching talk about the possibility of splitting up so she can reach her potential. She comforts him, but it’s unclear whether she agrees.

As they’re walking home, they see the Morpho glowing especially brightly, even though by all accounts it should be dead like every other machine in town. They’re standing around in awe when they notice the text on its screen: “Are you ready for the next stage?”

Just then, Hana appears behind them, blue spots on her back like the ones on Dusty and Mr. Johnson. “It’s never done that before,” she says, in an awed hush.

A suitably mysterious close

Gabrielle Dennis, Chris O’Dowd and Djouliet Amara in "The Big Door Prize," now streaming on Apple TV+.
The Big Door Prize season finale leaves us wanting more.
Photo: Apple TV+

The Big Door Prize was always kind of a mystery, what with the great big question mark at its center that is the Morpho machine itself. But the show always put the behavior of the characters and their existential queries first. It never quite leaned into being a genre show.

So it’s a welcome surprise that we’re suddenly in a much more straightforward mystery at the first season’s end, with a mystifying machine about to reveal some new, unheard-of process to the stunned people of Deerfield.

The episode serves as a great cap to the season. Now we have many cliffhangers on the character front, plus the more tantalizing question of what on earth is this machine and what is it about to do? Very nicely played. Consider me excited for season two of The Big Door Prize. (Yes, it’s been renewed.)


Watch The Big Door Prize on Apple TV+

New episodes of The Big Door Prize arrive every Wednesday on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper and But God Made Him A Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century, the director of 30 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at


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