Based on the namesake book by M.O. Walsh, ‘The Big Door Prize’ is set in the town of Deerfield, where the lives of people are altered by the sudden appearance of the Morpho machine, which tells what a person’s life potential is in exchange for two dollars, their social security numbers, and fingerprints. In episode 9, ‘Deerfest: Part 1,’ the town prepares for the eponymous festival. Dusty (Chris O’Dowd) has an epiphany about the Morpho cards. Mr. Johnson (Patrick Kerr) learns something new about the mysterious machine, and Reuben (Damon Gupton) makes a life-changing decision. Here is everything you might want to know about the ending of ‘The Big Door Prize’ episode 9. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Big Door Prize Episode 9 Recap
The episode begins with Mr. Johnson returning to his store feeling dejected. His magic performance has gone terribly, and now he has begun to wonder whether he has any potential to be a magician at all. Toward the end of the previous episode, Xander retrieved the Theremin after Dusty had thrown it out in the trash. In this episode, he brings it to Mr. Johnson’s store and reveals his reasons. It turns out that the Theremin has the same Morpho butterfly logo as the machine, implying that the two have the same maker. It seems to rejuvenate Mr. Johnson’s sentiments about his life potential.
Meanwhile, at the Hubbard household, Dusty and Cass (Gabrielle Dennis) discuss the recent developments in their lives. Trina (Djouliet Amar) walks into the room and confesses the truth to her parents about Kolton, her infidelity, and Jacob. Dusty tries to comfort his daughter by telling her that she and Jacob are a much better match than she and Kolton but soon realizes it’s not the most appropriate thing to say.
Since Izzy’s on-stage antics, a considerable portion of the Deerfield population has started seeing the Hubbards with suspicion. A few others see it as an opportunity. For instance, a woman tries to return a hoodie even though she didn’t get it from Cass. Giorgio claims that he is finally ready to move on from his decades-long unrequited love for Cass, though Dusty has his doubts. But the way Giorgio and Nat look at each other in this episode, there might be some possibility. Dusty’s father shows up, apparently helping Giorgio by advising him as a male role model.
That’s the theme of this episode: a re-evaluation of the life potential that people have gotten. Dusty can’t stop thinking about when he realized that Whistler in his card could be the Canadian town Whistler, where he went on skiing trip years ago and made some of the most precious moments of his life.
Inspired by her grandfather’s words, Trina decides to make a public address announcement of the fact that she and Jacob have been dating for a while. It leads to a very predictable disaster. It angers Jacob, whom Trina didn’t consult before making the announcement. He points out to her that she also didn’t speak to him before talking about their relationship to his father and her parents.
As the situation quickly deteriorates in his class, Dusty has an epiphany. Neither the characters nor the viewers know how and why the Morpho machine suddenly appeared. But Dusty thinks that the Morppho cards denote the changes that the Deerfield residents have to make in their lives. The words in these cards are not the destiny of the respective people but an arrow indicating the right direction.
After speaking to Beau, Jacob visits the Hubbard home with him and reconciles with Trina, and together with Cass and Dusty, they visit the Deerfest. Reuben goes to speak to Hana and admits that he no longer wants to be a priest. They share a kiss. Meanwhile, as predicted, a storm starts to brew.
The Big Door Prize Episode 9 ending: Is the Morpho Machine Destroyed?
Toward the end of the episode, Mr. Johnson plays the Theremin in front of the Morpho machine, hoping for a response and apparently doesn’t get any. He then grabs the sword he got from Giorgio and tries to open the back of the machine with it. He gets electrocuted and seems to have a heart attack. That’s how the school nurse finds him.
Although from what we see in this episode, it may seem that the Morpho machine has been destroyed, especially with how lights flashed when Mr. Johnson tried to pry it open with his sword, this might end up triggering a change in the machine itself. Butterflies are one of the most common metaphors for change. Perhaps, this presumed abrupt action on Mr. Johnson’s part is a calculated one to make it transform into its next stage.
Is Mr. Johnson Dead?
Although He seems to have suffered a heart attack and is unconscious at the end of the episode, it’s unlikely that Mr. Johnson is dead, especially with the nurse being there. The appearance of the blue dots on his skin creates another mystery. We saw them earlier on Dusty’s skin. If we presume that these marks only appear on the skin of people who have tried to physically alter a machine, the legitimate question to ask is when Dusty was able to do that. From what we know, the first time he sees the Morpho machine is when he visits Mr. Johnson’s store in episode 1.
Read More: The Big Door Prize Episode 8 Recap and Ending, Explained