Star Trek has always been an inclusive series and has been known to have characters and episodes that celebrate the differences in all people. This episode in a prime example of how this franchise really embraces diversity of all kinds. Originally airing on January 9, 1989, today we discuss Loud As A Whisper.
Stardate 42477.2: Loud As A Whisper
The Enterprise is called to take the renowned mediator Riva to help settle a dispute between two factions on the planet Solais V. Picard beams down to the planet, despite Riker’s misgivings. They soon meet Riva who they discover is both deaf and mute, relying in his psychic connection to his chorus to communicate with other people.
After meeting Riva they are introduced to his chorus consisting of three people who represent different aspects of Riva’s personality. They are, in essence, his mouth piece and he uses them in every negotiation. They have been raised with him with each generation passing following alongside Riva’s family line. Riva is also a little smitten with Deanna.
When they arrive at the planet, the cease fire has ended and the two parties talk to Riva via a bad transmission with the Enterprise. Riva beams down to negotiate the peace treaty but one of the two factions attack Riva and kills his Chorus leaving Riva distraught and alone. They instantly beam back aboard and Riva is panicking. He attempts to talk with Picard via sign language but Picard can not understand him. In frustration, Picard takes his hand and explains that Riva is not alone.
Data researches sign language and learns every version he can find. He and Riva talk and Riva explains that the deaths of his chorus was his own fault as he had gotten arrogant in his time. He further explains that his chorus can not be replaced as they are the only ones who could show his emotions properly. Rivas refuses to continue the negotiations and storms off.
Troi returns to him with Data and tells Riva that she plans to continue the negotiations herself in his absence. She talks to him and gets him to realize that he needs to turn his disadvantage into an advantage this giving him a chance to continue his negotiations. He then decides to return and teach each of the factions sign language. By doing this, he hopes that they will find a common language in a new form of communication. After beaming down, He thanks Riker and his team and lets them know that he will be fine left on the planet to complete his mission alone.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
It is. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the story and Howie Seago, Riva, is really incredible. Even though he never speaks in the episode, you forget that his chorus is not him actually speaking. His reactions and facial expressions are amazing to watch. I was even more impressed to find out that Howie Seago is, in real life, deaf himself.
This one also really has some great character building for Troi and LaForge. We get to see more of how Deanne deals with her mental abilities and her interest in someone other than Riker. She also gets a chance to really develop more as a councilor and you get to see her strength in that position.
One other minor ‘b’ story deals with Geordi and his eyes. Pulaski reveals that she can perform an operation that will restore Geordi’s eyesight to normal human sight. He struggles with the decision but we do not see a resolution this episode.
As a kid I really didn’t enjoy this episode but as an adult it spoke to me on many levels. This is a prime example of how Star Trek really shines by breaking the norms and embracing diversity. I think this may be a favorite now.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We never hear or see Riva again, it is assumed that he was able to negotiate the treaty.
Transporter Chief O’Brien is back again!
Sadly the thread of Geordi being offered a fix for his eyes is dropped this season, it would be revisited again but much later.
We learn that Riva was one of the key negotiators between the Klingons and The Federation. Worf reveals that before Riva, there was no Klingon word for peacemaker.
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 6/2/2019 (Originally published 3/9/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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