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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old April 15 2013, 01:48 PM   #1
Jeyl
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Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

"The Royale"
Memory Alpha Entry
Chakoteya Transcript

This episode... This freaking episode. It's not that it's an offensive or insulting episode, it's just horribly lazy, uninteresting and completely wrong in it's attempts to be scientific and philosophical. The sets are bland, the situations aren't involving and the mystery feels completely shoe horned in. Heck, I think Riker has the perfect summary of this episode.

Riker: such a badly written book, filled with endless clich and shallow characters.
Sometimes science fiction stories don't always provide the answers to it's own questions and that's not really a bad thing. Some find that the lack of answers can benefit a story by drawing your own conclusions that don't make you feel ripped off. Many Star Trek episodes that use this method of story telling can work out very well. This week's episode "The Royale", doesn't answer any of it's questions and we're left with the opposite effect. You're not left thinking about how awesome these aliens are, you're left scratching your head on how the aliens responsible for our heroes' predicament could be so stupid.

Our episode opens with the Enterprise arriving at a planet where a Klingon ship reported seeing space debris in the atmosphere (awfully nice of them). It's here that we get the first sign of this episode's incompetence.

LAFORGE: Nasty. Nitrogen, methane, liquid neon. Surface temperature -291C. Winds up to three hundred and twelve meters per second.
For those who aren't familiar with the term "Absolute Zero", it is the temperature at which nothing could possibly get colder because all heat would be gone. If the same principles were applied to measure the speed of a vehicle, it would be at a complete stop. This planet's temperature is -17.85C colder than absolute zero, which is -273.15C. Basically, even though your vehicle has come to a complete stop, you can still go slower speed wise.

And 312 meters per second wind speed is really fast as well. To give you an idea on how fast that is, you would essentially cross more than three whole football fields in a single second. It's a mere 28 m/s slower than the speed of sound and about 199 m/s faster than the fastest wind speed ever recorded on Earth. So not only is this place colder than absolute zero with winds that can destroy whole cities, an advanced race of aliens thought that this world would be the perfect place to house a human being with whom they have no idea what their culture or way of living is like.

And you've got to wonder why an alien race who can understand the written english language wouldn't want to wake this person up and attempt to communicate with him. After all, they're able to interpret and recreate an entire world based on a poorly written book that probably didn't describe the amount of detail that we see in their simulation. At least Kirk left Khan on a world that could support life and in time, develop a whole new civilization.

As for this episode's worse screw up? I'll save that for the Stinger.

As I've mentioned earlier, this episode shares many similarities to the original series episode "A Piece of the Action" but without any of the cleverness or sense of fun. The scene with the crew trying to own the Casino is alright, but it's just a means to end the episode in the most blandest way possible. They don't even quarantine or destroy the structure so that no one, especially aliens would find themselves trapped there like our heroes were! And to add the final insult to this episode, Picard has this to say about how we may never solve this mystery.

PICARD: Like Fermat's theorem, it's a puzzle we may never solve.
Andrew Wiles on Solving Fermat

Yeah. Humanity will develop technology that will enable us to travel hundreds of times faster than the speed of light and transporter technology that literally sends us from one place to another without moving, and yet we won't be able to figure out Fermat's theorem.... which we already have in real life.

Conclusion: While this episode is certainly watchable, the hilarious absence of any scientific knowledge by the writers, the lack of common sense amongst the characters (Again, the ironic Riker line about the book) and lazily written "It's all a mystery!" conclusion does not help sell TNG as a smart and clever science fiction series even on the standards of the original series. Still, at least this episode has music by Ron Jones.

STINGER:

Last edited by Jeyl; April 15 2013 at 03:07 PM.
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Old April 15 2013, 01:57 PM   #2
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
LAFORGE: Nasty. Nitrogen, methane, liquid neon. Surface temperature -291C. Winds up to three hundred and twelve meters per second.
For those who aren't familiar with the term "Absolute Zero", it is the temperature at which nothing could possibly get colder because all heat would be gone. If the same principles were applied to measure the speed of a vehicle, it would be at a complete stop. This planet's temperature is -17.85C colder than absolute zero, which is -273.15C. Basically, even though your vehicle has come to a complete stop, you can still go slower speed wise.
It's the wind chill factor.

Yeah, this is a pretty pathetic episode.

I dig the American flag with 52 stars, though.
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Old April 15 2013, 02:47 PM   #3
sadsquid
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

I always liked this episode. Thought it was a fun location. The whole astronaut being abducted by aliens/basing everything on a terrible book wasn't very interesting, but I found it enjoyable watching the three trying to escape the casino. Data gambling and buying out the hotel was great!

My favourite bit:
RIKER: This planet. What do you call it?
CLERK: Earth. What do you call it?
WORF: We call it Theta Eight.
CLERK: How charming.

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Old April 15 2013, 03:15 PM   #4
Timo
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

I think the austere shallowness of the setting is a perfect horror element that truly hammers in the terrifying fate of Colonel Richey... Sure, it may not carry an episode of TNG, but it does leave the appropriate aftermath.

And 312 meters per second wind speed is really fast as well.
But fitting. Neptune has worse...

As for Fermat's theorem, Fermat's own solution to it has certainly not been discovered, and probably never will; indeed, it's almost certain that it doesn't exist. And that's what Picard is specifically talking about in the teaser, even if he words it a bit funnily in the closing scene.

They don't even quarantine or destroy the structure so that no one, especially aliens would find themselves trapped there like our heroes were!
Why can't we assume that they would do that as a matter of routine? Kirk always left his planets in a seeming hurry, too, but nothing precluded him from having established a quarantine or having asked somebody else to do it for him. Nothing except Kirk personally sorting out the whole business already, that is, so that no quarantine would be necessary.

an alien race who can understand the written english language
...And that's the big question. Where did the aliens get Hotel Royale from? Did they actually read the book? Or did they scan the mind of the supposedly badly hurt Richey, and extract from it something they did not understand in the slightest? The latter sounds far more likely, and also explains how the scenery got its detail: it's all Richey's doing, even if beyond his control.

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Old April 15 2013, 03:48 PM   #5
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Timo wrote: View Post
But fitting. Neptune has worse...
Not saying it's impossible like the temperature being colder than absolute zero, but it only adds into the questionable ethics on why the aliens would pick a planet that's so inhospitable for a human being. And if they have the technology to build a sustainable complex in such environments, why not do something simpler like put it on a moon where he can be spotted and potentially rescued?
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Old April 15 2013, 06:38 PM   #6
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

In my TNG top-10, without a doubt. Incredibly fun episode.
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Old April 15 2013, 06:39 PM   #7
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

I totally forgot about this episode!!


As for the alien race thing, if they can create a free standing structure with simulated living organisms, who speak and understand the English language, I don't think it's a huge stretch to imagine they can understand, or at least decode, the english language.
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Old April 15 2013, 07:27 PM   #8
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Considering Fermat's Last Theorem went 350 years without being solved, it was bad luck it was solved 5 years after the airing. Star Trek IV mentions Leningrad. It happens.

For Richie's body, why not just go with an extra with some minor "dead" makeup if they wanted to mention advanced decomposition? It's very strange the way it's done.

A couple other parts are both amusing and annoying. They don't initially understand that an elevator might require pushing a button? They still push buttons in the 24th century. Also, no one knows what "room service" means.
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Old April 15 2013, 07:27 PM   #9
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
PICARD: Like Fermat's theorem, it's a puzzle we may never solve.
Andrew Wiles on Solving Fermat

Yeah. Humanity will develop technology that will enable us to travel hundreds of times faster than the speed of light and transporter technology that literally sends us from one place to another without moving, and yet we won't be able to figure out Fermat's theorem.... which we already have in real life.
In fairness, Wiles published his proof in 1995, and when this episode came out in 1989 nobody knew he was even working in it.

Timo wrote: View Post
As for Fermat's theorem, Fermat's own solution to it has certainly not been discovered, and probably never will; indeed, it's almost certain that it doesn't exist. And that's what Picard is specifically talking about in the teaser, even if he words it a bit funnily in the closing scene.
While it is generally believed that Fermat did not have a valid proof, that is not known for sure. Even if Fermat didn't have a proof, many mathematicians hope that a proof will be found that is much briefer than Wiles', which is over a thousand pages. It's unsatisfying in the sense that the theorem is now known to be true, but the proof doesn't provide an understanding of "why" it's true.
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Old April 15 2013, 07:29 PM   #10
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

One has to wonder why purchasing the casino allows the crew to leave the hotel in the first place. It's quite apparent that the whole scenario is on some sort of loop where characters go through the same story plot points over and over again, so why does buying the casino allow whoever is in the simulation to leave? What was the purpose of allowing the only living human in this entire simulation the ability to leave it when there's really nowhere to go? What was the point in trapping anyone there at all? If it was for experimenting, why leave this simulation running for hundreds of years?

Speaking of not being able to leave, let's talk about that revolving door. Riker, Data and Worf try to leave the casino by going through a revolving door. What makes this a poor scene is that they go through the door's entire duration that would literally put anyone back where they started from. Does Riker or anyone else comment that there is no exit on the other side? No. They actually act surprised that they walked back into the lobby. I know that was the intention of the scene because our heroes go through the revolving door again. So not only do we have lazy writing, we have lazy set pieces. And it doesn't even look like a hard effect to pull off. Just have the revolving door go at a constant speed, have the actors go through it without interfering with it's rotation and cut around that. You could even have the last character not go through because he realizes that they just ended back to where they started.
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Old April 15 2013, 07:32 PM   #11
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Not a good episode. I do like the 5 minutes or so where they find Richie's body, but it felt too much like a 3rd season TOS episode to be good.

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Old April 15 2013, 07:34 PM   #12
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Captrek wrote: View Post
In fairness, Wiles published his proof in 1995, and when this episode came out in 1989 nobody knew he was even working in it.
I know that was the case, which is why I thought it was silly for the writers to think that humanity would be able to create warp drive, transporter technology, holographic technology, replicators and even time machines.... but not figure out that bloody theorem.
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Old April 15 2013, 08:50 PM   #13
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
Captrek wrote: View Post
In fairness, Wiles published his proof in 1995, and when this episode came out in 1989 nobody knew he was even working in it.
I know that was the case, which is why I thought it was silly for the writers to think that humanity would be able to create warp drive, transporter technology, holographic technology, replicators and even time machines.... but not figure out that bloody theorem.
But don't forget, these are tv writers, not scientists.

Oh... a theorem, that sounds sciencey! Pretty! Boy, I are smart!

BTW, so I'm clear, all of the sarcasm was directed at tv writers being stupid and not your posts calling attention to it.

I also don't think a planet can be at below absolute zero. Absolute zero means that the lack of energy in the system is so total that everything is frozen solid and the atoms aren't even vibrating. the atmosphere would be frozen to the ground, so wind speed is about 0. Neptune has the high winds, but it's not absolute zero, either.

I remember this one pretty well, it seemed like a cheap episode. It wasn't bad, but not very good, a middle episode, like so many.
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Old April 15 2013, 09:10 PM   #14
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
Captrek wrote: View Post
In fairness, Wiles published his proof in 1995, and when this episode came out in 1989 nobody knew he was even working in it.
I know that was the case, which is why I thought it was silly for the writers to think that humanity would be able to create warp drive, transporter technology, holographic technology, replicators and even time machines.... but not figure out that bloody theorem.
Eh. It's not such a problem for me. As of the time of the episode, FLT had stymied mathematicians for over 350 years, and there was no clear indication we were any closer to a solution than Fermat. For a lay audience, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine it continuing to elude solution for another few centuries.

Depicting the future as unrealistically similar to the present is always part of Trek, and it's unavoidable.

One of my favorite examples is combat. 24th century people use phasers pretty much the same way 20th century people used guns: you hold it in your hand, point at the target, and push the trigger. You can't really shoot without opening yourself to return fire from the same direction; if you're "pinned down" by cover fire, you're effectively prevented from shooting the enemy. Hitting a small moving target takes great skill, so Picard and Riker spend time practicing it on the holodeck.

Realistically speaking, weapons like the EP-607 will be developed long before the 24th century. Computer intelligence will be able to aim the weapon far more quickly and accurately than any (unaugmented) human possibly could. It will be able to move to firing position without being held in the hand of the operator and without a direct line of sight from the operator's eye to the target, so the operator won't have to expose himself to return fire.

Creating a believable depiction of 24th century combat is beyond us, or at least beyond the makers of Star Trek, so they just depict it as the same as 20th century combat, but with guns that are "futuristic" because they fire energy beams instead of metal projectiles.

Is it fair to expect the Star Trek writers to identify a math problem that realistically might be frustrating 24th century mathematicians? Of course not. Frankly, there probably won't be any—the technological singularity will have long since obsoleted the practice of developing new math with the organic brain of Homo sapiens. But an accurate portrayal of the post-singularity world is not what we're going to see in Star Trek. In Star Trek, we'll see people in the far future struggling with the same kinds of problems that we struggle with today. Showing them struggle with FLT is a reasonable artistic choice that is consistent with Star Trek standard practices as a whole.
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Old April 15 2013, 10:19 PM   #15
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x12 "The Royale"

OMG! Star Trek got something wrong.

If we judged each episode on that criteria, we'd have to throw out about ninety percent of it... if not more.
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