Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 38 (The Royale)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I like Star Trek: The Next Generation as a series. I really do. I consider myself a fan. However, the series had a few really bad episodes, particularly during the first and second seasons. A lot of it had to do with writing. Either it was the plot as a whole or particular points in the script. It’s kind of hard to pin it down in “The Royale”.

The Enterprise comes across a planet that has a ring of debris around it. Curious about it, Captain Picard has a piece beamed aboard. Amazingly, that one piece happens to have an American flag and the NASA logo on it. Even more intrigued, Picard sends down an away team. Most of the planet is inhospitable to humanoid life. Commander Riker, Lieutenant Worf and Lieutenant Commander Data beam down to a pocket of breathable atmosphere that, oddly enough, has a revolving door. There’s no building around the door. The only clue to what the door may be is a stylized “R”. The away team decides to go through.

They find themselves in a casino/hotel. They go to the front desk, where the concierge seems to recognize them. He hands them room keys and a few complimentary chips. They don’t get many answers, but they learn that the name of the place is The Royale, hence the name of the episode. The landing party looks around. A few floors up, they find a human corpse and a NASA uniform in the closet. They figure that this must have been one of the crewmen on the wrecked ship.

In the desk, Worf finds a book called “The Royale” and a journal. Data quickly reads the book while Riker looks at the journal’s only entry. It turns out that the man was taken here by unknown aliens, who inadvertently destroyed the ship. The man was the only survivor. He wrote that the aliens used the book to create the hotel and casino so that he might live out the rest of his days.

The landing party finds that they can’t leave the casino. Riker realizes that they have to play out the book’s story by playing the parts of the foreign investors. They have to win enough money to buy the casino. Once they do that, they are free to leave.

The episode is at least somewhat entertaining. However, much of the episode deals with the landing party trying to figure out what’s going on. There are only three characters that they can deal with: The concierge, a gambler from Texas and a rather naive woman. There’s also a bellboy and the mobster, who don’t interact directly with the away team, but do make an appearance. Everyone else is just for show. It’s basically one step above a holodeck malfunction, which The Next Generation already used.

I got the impression that the NASA crewman was just left there by the aliens without any explanation. If it was possible for the away team to leave, then it must have been possible for the NASA crewman to leave the same way. However, the away team had the Enterprise waiting for them. What did the crewman have? Would the aliens have taken him back to Earth? Also, why did the aliens leave The Royale around for other people to find? Don’t you think that the aliens would have at least checked in on the guy once in a while? I’d think that once he was dead, they’d remove the Royale.

Also, in the beginning of the episode, Picard states that Fermat’s Last Theorem is still unsolved in the 24th century. This was supposed to be used as an allusion to The Royale that perhaps some things will never be known. According to TV Tome, Fermat’s Last Theorem was solved a few years after the episode aired. I asked my brother about this and he sent me a link about it. .

I have to give this episode just one star. It’s easily one of the ten worst episodes of the series.

IMDb page

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