Loud as a Whisper
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
9 Jan 1989
Season Ep :
So this Riva guy is one of the most famous negotiators in history... and the Enterprise-D crew don't know he's deaf, or have any idea how to talk to him via the chorus? Even assuming that nobody knew about him as a matter of course, doesn't it seem strange that they didn't take a moment to find out a single thing about this very important person before meeting him?
Great Moment :
Riva's communication attempts with Troi at dinner, sans chorus.
Body Count :
At least four seen to die - Riva's chorus and the man who shot them.
Howie Seago actually is deaf, as is his father and two brothers.
Marnie Mosiman is John de Lancie's wife.
The Enterprise arrives at the planet Ramatis III to pick up Riva, a famous negotiator. The war-ravaged planet of Solais V has requested Riva to mediate a peace treaty so that their thousand year war can finally be brought to an end. Beaming down to Ramatis III, the Away Team find Riva accompanied by three people who speak for him; the "chorus" recieve the negotiator's thoughts telepathically and express them to others verbally. Each of the three expresses a different aspect of Riva's personality; the warrior, the artist, and the harmony which balances the others.
Back on the ship Riva appears supremely confident in his abilities. He doesn't bother listening to any of the material the Enterprise-D crew has prepared for him on the origins of the war, reasoning that since it had been going for a millennium, whatever originally started it has long since become irrelevant. Instead he is focused on whatever might have changed recently to cause them to ask for his aid now. During the journey to Solais V Riva and Troi become close; at a dinner with her he dismisses his chorus and communicates with her via gestures.
Arriving at Solais V, Picard discovers laserfire going on on the surface - a battle is in progress. He hails the planet and urges them to halt the fighting so that the negotiations they requested can begin, and this request is honoured. An Away Mission beams down, and shortly representatives of the two sides arrive to talk. However, one of the soldiers pulls his weapon and fires, annhilating the entire chorus. Although the traitor is killed by his own comrade in retaliation, Riker beams the Away Team back up at once.
Riva is utterly distraught at the loss of his primary means of communication, practically in a panic. Picard realises that he is trying to use some for of gestural language, and asks Data to learn all the languages that include those gestures to facilitate communication. The android does so, and learns that Riva wants to go home - he regards the loss of his chorus as a crippling blow to the mission and refuses to continue.
Troi decides to attempt the negotiations in Riva's place, and asks him for help preparing. When Riva tells her it is vital to be able to turn a disadvantage into an advantage, he realises that he may be able to take his own advice and decides to resume the mission. beaming down once more he prepares the site with a conference table and beacons to attract attention. He reveals that he will remain there, alone - for as long as it takes to teach the peace representatives his sign language. In learning to communicate with him, Riva believes that they will learn to communicate with one another and so forge a bond that will lead to peace. The Enterprise-D leaves Riva on the surface, knowing that his mission may take months or even years.
Not a bad episode, really, but it never really works that well for me. For the most part, the chorus just seems to be a little bit silly as a way to communicate. I can't really put my finger on why, it's just not really very credible.
Beyond that, the episode has no real glaring flaws... it just isn't all that good.