|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Cliff Bole|
|Written by||Tracy Tormé (as Keith Mills)|
|Featured music||Ron Jones|
|Cinematography by||Edward R. Brown|
|Original air date||March 27, 1989|
"The Royale" is the 12th episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 38th episode overall. It was originally released on March 27, 1989, in broadcast syndication.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, Riker, Data, and Worf become trapped in a strange hotel on a planet otherwise incapable of supporting human life.
Following a tip from a Klingon ship, the Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, finds debris from an Earth ship orbiting an uninhabitable alien planet. A sample of the debris beamed aboard shows NASA markings and a 52-star American flag, meaning the debris of the ship is several hundred years old, and has traveled far beyond the capability of ships of that era. Scans of the planet reveal a small anomalous area capable of supporting human life, so Commander Riker, Lt. Worf, and Lt. Commander Data beam down to investigate, and find a revolving door in an otherwise blank environment. Upon entering they find themselves in an old Earth-style hotel and casino called The Royale, where they are cut off from contact with the Enterprise.
The away team soon discovers they are trapped inside the casino, and after making several unsuccessful attempts to leave, they decide to explore the building. They find the desiccated but preserved remains of Col. Steven Richey, a NASA astronaut, and a pulp novel entitled Hotel Royale. Upon reading Richey's logs, they learn that his starship was accidentally contaminated by an unknown race of aliens, then thrown across the galaxy, and he was the only survivor. Taking pity on him, the aliens created The Royale for him, thinking the novel's story represented humans' preferred way of living, whereas Richey found it unbearable.
Riker, Data, and Worf realize that the novel's plot has been recreated in detail by the aliens and is playing out in front of them, and surmise that they might be able to leave if they are scripted to do so. They assume the role of a trio of "foreign investors" described in the novel and, taking advantage of Data's ability to precisely manipulate dice at the casino's craps table, win enough money to buy out the Royale, and are then able to leave.
The episode was written by Tracy Tormé under the pseudonym of Keith Mills. Tormé had his name removed from the credits after he became unsatisfied with rewrites. His original idea was a surreal nightmare about an astronaut stuck forever in his most pleasant memory.
- The episode mentions Fermat's Last Theorem, and that it still had not been solved after 800 years. A proof was, however, found by Andrew Wiles and published in 1995, six years after the episode aired. The resulting incongruity in "The Royale" was later addressed in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Facets".
- In the scene where Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge scans the planet, he describes the surface temperature as −291 °C, a temperature that is below absolute zero (−273.15 °C). Although absolute negative temperatures are possible, they do not correspond to the portrayal of the planet in the episode.
- In the scene where Lt. Commander Data observes a couple playing blackjack, he advises a woman that "the odds favor standing pat" on her total of hard thirteen against a dealer's king up; the optimal play is to take a card.
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 2, disc 3, selection 4.
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