Episode 4 of The Big Door Prize begins with us switching tact and following Father Reuben. He shows up at the bar, talking to Hana about Breaking Dawn and how characters “come out of nowhere”. He quips back about the bible, but Hana amusingly comments that it’s similar in that characters pop up there too.
Reuben shows up at school, talking to Trina about faith and religion, including how it can help move through grief. Speaking of moving through things, Dusty tries to eat hot wings and even has half a tattoo for Cass but she’s not particularly happy about it. Cass tells him that this should be the last “puff-related thing” for her, given she’s not particularly enthused about the cuddly toys all over the place.
Dusty is hurt and believes they should get rid of all the puffin stuff if that’s how she feels, and with a rubbish bag in hand, he starts throwing them away. Dusty admits that he’s feeling like everything is spiraling out of control, including people getting into relationships and breaking up long-term ones on a whim from the machine. Nowhere else is that exemplified more than with Principal Pat, who gets married to Malik off the back of his card reading “Lover”.
Instead of rings, the pair exchange wings, until the attention turns back to Father Reuben. This mystery MORPHO machine is the talk of the town, but it also throws Reuben’s entire philosophy and faith into question. Dusty shares Reuben’s doubts, especially given the speed at which the pair have got married.
In the middle of the wedding, Izzy (Trina’s mum) realizes that she’s not actually wanted, nor has she been officially invited. When she’s shown up by a couple of women, Izzy decides to give her gift for the happy couple, which comes from an interpretative dance. And she steals the focus off the couple in the process, as the spotlight goes to her.
Dusty, Reuben and Hanna retreat to the bar, discussing how Trina and Dusty got together, as well as the baggage between Cass and her mum. Izzy believes that Cass is stealing her thunder when Cass starts dancing with the flower girl, and it sours the entire experience. But on the plus side, at least the focus is back on the happy couple again… right?
Well, no as it turns out. Dusty decides to do something spontaneous next, convincing Cass to take to the dancefloor as he does his own interpretative dance before the pair share the spotlight with everyone else. Other men and women join in, as the lyrics “You gotta have faith” ring true through numerous facets of this episode in a nice audible touch.
Giorgio is taken aback by this display, given he still has the hots for Cass, while Reuben and Hanna discuss the MORPHO machine over at the bar when the celebrations die down.. As they disagree about the longevity of the machine and what it means for them, Reuben is distracted by the music playing. Hanna’s playlist has a swathe of different songs… including “Still The One” by Shania Twain. It turns out this was actually his wedding song.
Reuben was married to an amazing woman and she met him when he was at his worst point in life. She gave him life and they were planning on having kids. Then she got sick and left this world.
As a result, Reuben fell all the way back down to rock bottom. He ended up drunk, punching people, and outside a bar he saw his “life potential” coming in the form of a card labelled “Priest”. He carved out a whole life for himself based on this card… but it would appear it wasn’t actually meant for him. No, the card he received from the machine earlier, “Father”, seems to hint toward him being a loving father for his own kids. Otherwise, the machine would have spat out the word “Priest” for him, right?
This finally explains Reuben’s conflicted reaction last episode, which was difficult to tell was elation or heartache. Now we know it’s the latter and throws into question the MORPHO machine’s reliability.
The Episode Review
It’s weird that this has been billed as a comedy as there really isn’t much in the way of humour with this show, beyond the odd absurdist or off-beat joke. Instead, the show plays out much more as a thought provoking experiment, looking at the different ways faith, potential and passion can be changed, distorted or interpreted in a multitude of ways.
This chapter with Father Reuben is arguably the best of the bunch so far, throwing into question the idea of being on the wrong life path, dedicating your life to something only to realize it’s not what you’re meant to do. But then what if it is?
What if the card is simply reinforcing what he’s doing but is actually a double entendre, claiming that he’s a “father” in the sense of a priest but also potentially a father to a child, moving past his grief and heartache through Hanna, whom he seems to have a great connection with.
The show is far from perfect, given the focus keeps gravitating back to Dusty and Cass. These two are arguably the least interesting part of this show given the amount of time we’ve spent with them. The complexity and depth with characters like Father Reuben is where this show is going to excel. Hopefully we get more of that going forward.