The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Royale

When a Klingon ship tips the Enterprise off about ship wreckage on a planet in the Theta 116 star system, Picard and the crew decide to investigate. Upon finding a piece of a 21st century NASA spaceship, Riker, Worf and Data head down to the only habitable area of the planet – only to find themselves trapped in a 20th century casino.

As I said in my last blog, I wasn’t looking forward to The Royale, which is very much a ‘trapped on the holodeck’ episode without the holodeck. Although my viewing companion claims the trashy novel Hotel Royale is no worse than Picard’s beloved Dixon Hill novels, that doesn’t improve the experience – both are hackneyed and tiresome non-sci-fi experiences. The only horror here is that a 21st century astronaut spent 38 years trapped in the Hotel Royale, and longed for the sweet release of death. I can totally understand – I felt that way after just two hours of The Santa Clause 3.

Points of note

First, a couple from earlier episodes.

  • In the last episode, we were introduced to Picard’s love of archaeology, a theme that will crop up again and again throughout the course of the series.
  • We recently had the first ever Enterprise poker game, in which Data claimed that he had studied poker extensively, but seemed surprised at the idea of bluffing. Surely any basic poker text would mention it, since it’s an integral part of the game.

Now, back to The Royale.

  • I already alluded to this in a previous blog, but here we see Picard’s love of mathematical puzzles once again, as he claims that he spends his spare time trying to find a proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. In the TNG world, this is apparently unproven, even though just a few years after this episode aired, Andrew Wiles did indeed prove it. Perhaps Picard means he is searching for Fermat’s original proof, which was likely to have been different to Wiles’ proof.
  • Geordi claims that the surface of the planet is at -291°C, which is pretty physics-breakingly impressive, given that would make it below absolute zero.
  • Between 2033 and 2079, the USA had 52 states. What are the extra two? My viewing companion suggests Puerto Rico and Washington DC.
  • My viewing companion points out that when Data claims “the odds favour standing pat, this is incorrect. Data, I’m surprised at you.
  • When Picard sits down to read Hotel Royale and figure out a way out of their predicament, why does he bother? Data has already read the book, and could surely make the connection between the events in the book and the events happening in front of him.
  • Who’s to say that ending the book would let Riker and the others leave? I guess they had to try it, but it could have been the case that the book just looped back round to the beginning.
  • Obviously a real casino would have taken Data to one side and asked him to leave if he had started winning so much, but I guess the aliens didn’t really have any deeper grasp of what a casino was like, so they just had to reproduce it from the pages of the novel. Also, it would have been nice to see Data using his amazing android brain to count cards.

“Is penetration possible?”

Summary – The Royale: Welcome to the Hotel Royale. You can check out but you can never leave.

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