The Enterprise transports a deaf/mute negotiator named Riva to the site of a dangerous conflict. Riva is deaf and mute, but communicates through a “Chorus” of individuals who represent different aspects of his personality. The negotiations go wrong when one party attempts to murder Riva, killing the Chorus instead. Troi, who has become romantically connected to Riva, must convince him that he can still communicate in order to get him to continue working on the treaty.
Teleplay by Jacqueline Zambrano. Directed by Larry Shaw.
Loud as a Whisper has some things in common with the previous episode The Outrageous Okona, in that it’s really a story about a guest character – Riva – with the Enterprise and crew serving, literally, as a vehicle for his story. It’s more interesting than it’s predecessor, though, simply because it brings out quite an interesting concept with Riva’s means for communication, and actually has a surprise or two in store for the viewer as the story unfolds. It’s weakness is that it doesn’t explore this concept deeply enough to make it truly memorable.
As I was watching the episode, I was wondering just how these three people found themselves in this unique line of work. Who were they really, and did they have any unique sense of identity? Would the passion guy fall for Troi himself, or would the harmony girl show the strain of having to keep the other two in balance? Then when they are shockingly killed (and this did surprise me, truly) I thought the story might go down the route of having to have Enterprise crew members take the Chorus’ place. Even the make up of the away team at the end, with Data (the artist / scholar), Worf (warrior / adonis) and Troi (balance / harmony) seemed to suggest this. But alas, the story didn’t go this direction and instead we get the rather lackluster conclusion of Riva deciding to give the two disputing parties common ground by making them both learn his sign language – something talked about but not actually seen.
In spite of this, it does wind up being a good episode for Troi, who gets to play quite a lot, especially when compared to her previous “focus” episode, The Child.
The episode also contains two other touches that I thought were worth mentioning. There is brief bit with Worf where he shows ambivalence at the fact that Riva brokered the peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingons. That’s an interesting piece of character development that’s not followed up on in the story, but shows that the production team were trying to take things forward. Riker’s understanding response also remphasizes the connection between them that was introduced in Where Silence Has Lease.
The other interesting bit is the scene where Geordi talks with Dr. Pulaski about options available to him regarding his eyes. It’s realistic, first of all, that there would be options in the super-futuristic world of Next Generation, but what I appreciated about the moment is that it brings up interesting questions that it doesn’t try to answer in the course of the episode, instead leaving the promise that the series will revisit them in the future. It’s a small thing, but it is an indication of the show deliberately creating a larger narrative that hasn’t really been evident before this. Of course, I don’t remember if the show ever did continue this conversation between Geordi and Dr. Pulaski, so how effectively it was creating this larger narrative remains to be seen.
Setting Up the Future
• See the above paragraph. Otherwise, there’s nothing, really.
• Thomas Oglesby, who plays Artist / Scholar, has appeared in a variety of roles in Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and especially Enterprise.
• Howard Seago, who plays Riva, is actually deaf.
• O’Brien is there again, still unnamed.
• The whole concept is interesting but gets odd and a bit creepy when Riva is putting the moves on Troi. At least Troi acknowledges this.
• Troi finds it special being there with Riva. My wife said she’d just find it be weird.
• Riva turns out to be a bit whiny and something of a sulk after the death of the chorus.
• Dr. Pulaski tells Geordi that there are risks associated with artificially growing his eyes back. Geordi says he’ll think about it – but he never asks what the risks actually are.
• You’d think Picard, rather than Troi, would be the obvious choice to try to negotiate the treaty.
• The end of the episode is a little flat, but I guess it’s realistic in that of course the situation will not be resolved instantly. But would the Enterprise really depart at this point, leaving no one to support Riva in case things go badly again?
Dialogue High Point
My favorite line comes when Riva meets Geordi and asks if he resents either his Visor or being blind.
No, since they’re both part of me, and I really like who I am, there’s no reason for me to resent either one