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Loud As A Whisper (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

The Enterprise brings a deaf negotiator to mediate the end of a planetary civil war.

Summary Edit


The mediator Riva

The war-torn planet Solais V, desperate for peace, calls for the famous mediator Riva to hear their dispute. This man, being deaf and mute, depends on his telepathic powers, and those of his three aides, to communicate with others. The USS Enterprise-D is dispatched to Ramatis III to bring Riva to the planet, where Counselor Troi, through her empathic senses, becomes close to him.

Captain Picard, Worf, and Troi are transported down to Ramatis III to pick up Riva. Prior to beaming down, Troi senses discomfort from Worf. At first Worf denies it, but Troi insists and presses the issue. When Riker and Picard turn to inquire, Worf admits to some discomfort because of Riva. Picard understands and explains to the others that Riva had played a key role in negotiating several peace treaties between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. Worf tells the away team that before Riva, there was no Klingon word for "peacemaker."

Riva and Troi

An intimate meal

After beaming down, Troi becomes a vital member in the away team because of her telepathic abilities. From their first meeting, Riva is impressed and attracted by her telepathic capabilities and, foremost, by her beauty.

Riva and Troi continually meet to show their affection. Riva, in his persistent behavior, has let his emotions takeover the mission that he set out to do. Over dinner, they carry on conversations through sign language. During dinner, Picard discovers that the ceasefire on Solais V has been broken and that the two factions have continued their battle. Riva's dinner is interrupted when the two factions request his presence.

Upon Picard's request, Riva approaches the bridge to conduct the peace agreement between the two factions. Beyond all skepticism, Riva successfully stops the battle between the two factions and decides to locate a meeting spot on Solais V to conduct a peace meeting. Riva's aides each represent a fundamental emotional component of his psyche, and their mode of communication has evolved over many generations.

Rivas chorus killed, remastered

Riva's chorus getting killed

Worf, Riker, Riva and his chorus beam down to the site of the Battle of Zambrano, where Riva asks for a table as well as torches from the Enterprise. During the peace talks, a rogue member of one of the factions suddenly opens fire at the negotiation team, missing Riva due to Riker's interference but instead killing his whole chorus. The enraged leader of the faction instantly executes the rogue subordinate, and in the confusion Riva and the Enterprise crew return to the ship. Despite the subsequent pleas of both faction leaders, Riva becomes distraught and refuses to continue with the negotiations. Riva, while in the ship's observation lounge, is very upset and frantically gesturing in sign language that Troi, Data and Picard cannot understand. Picard grabs Riva and tells him that while his chorus is dead, he is not alone. They are all in this situation together.

Picard calming Riva

"Listen to me! You are not alone."

Data, through the computer, analyzes a number of different sign languages that help him to construct an index which he later uses to decipher Riva's sign language. Riva assumes responsibility for the deaths of his translators and is not willing to continue with the peace treaty. Riva explains that he cannot use Data because while he considers Data a fine machine, he cannot deliver the necessary emotions found in his translator's voices.

LaForge and Pulaski

"This is a lot to think about."

Meanwhile, Geordi La Forge and Chief Medical Officer Pulaski discuss his medical case. Dr. Pulaski is apparently capable of repairing his eyes through two types of surgery: ocular implants, which would give him 80% of the vision provided by his VISOR, or extensive repairs done to the optical nerves and replicated eyes, which would give him normal vision but at greater risk. She tells him if he decides to undergo the surgery, there is no going back. La Forge, overwhelmed, decides to take time to think about his decision.

Riva stands alone

Riva stands alone

Troi tells Riva that she will be conducting the negotiations in his place and asks for help. Riva explains several of the important aspects of negotiating peace between warring factions. One such idea, "turn a disadvantage into an advantage," inspires Riva to come up with a solution. Riva decides that the best way to resolve the confrontation is for him to teach sign language to both factions, believing that as the factions learn to talk to him, they will also learn to talk to one another. The Enterprise leaves Riva on the planet to resolve the issue and carries on. Picard thanks Troi for her help with Riva and says that while she can read his thoughts, he wanted to tell her himself.

Log entries Edit

Memorable quotes Edit

"Oh, cluck, cluck, cluck, Number One."
"You're being a mother hen."

- Jean-Luc Picard and William T. Riker, on Picard joining the away team to Ramatis III

"Our job is not to police the galaxy."
"Isn't that my speech, Number One?"

- Riker and Picard

"Before him, there was no Klingon word for "peacemaker"."

- Worf, on Riva

"Then Riva, the mediator is..."

- Picard and Riva's chorus

"Confidence is faith in oneself. It can't be easily given by another."

- Deanna Troi

"Your method of communication is most elegant and quite beautiful."

- Deanna Troi, on Riva's chorus

"Well, this is a lot to think about. I'll get back to you, doctor."

- La Forge, on Pulaski's suggestion of ocular implants which he would not get for another eight years

"Phasers on stun."
"You won't need them."
"I'm sure we won't. Energize."

- Riker and Riva's chorus

"The time for killing has come to an end."

- Riva, through his chorus

"Listen to me! You are not alone! We are all in this together... now."

- Picard, trying to calm Riva down after his chorus was killed

"Data is a fine machine but he cannot take the place of my chorus."

- Riva, after Data learns his sign language

"Why can't you do that? Why can't you turn a disadvantage into an advantage?"
"That is interesting."

- Troi and Riva

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

Filming Howie Seago

Howie Seago during filming

  • Howie Seago, who played Riva, is in fact deaf and uses American Sign Language. He petitioned the producers to create a show about deaf people, in part to dispel untrue and prejudiced myths about them. In the first draft, Riva learned to speak overnight after a mechanical translator he used to communicate with his chorus failed. Seago suggested the ending used in the finished episode the day prior to shooting. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 73)
  • The script of this episode stated that Riva was forced to learn sign language while mediating a conflict in the Plaeties system. The beings involved in the conflict were extremely paranoid and did not allow Riva's Chorus to accompany him, so in order to communicate on his own behalf, the deaf mediator had to learn sign language. However, this information did not make it into the final cut of the episode. Nor did the fact that members of the family to which Riva belongs do not read or write (although Riva's refusal to write down what he wishes to say suggests this possibility). [1]

Production Edit

Shooting Loud as a Whisper

Reviewing the script between takes

  • Two scenes in Picard's ready room, which depict a hologram of the Lima Sierra system, during both the teaser and the episode's final scene are one of only two instances during the entire run of the series that the holographic interface on the desk is seen in operation. It was also seen in use in "The Child".
  • The moment featuring Riva and his entourage selecting a beam-down site from the bridge features one of only several instances during the series' run when live video monitors were used on the bridge set of the Enterprise, as opposed to backlit graphics or a post-production burn-in. In this instance, only one such monitor was used, in the Science I console. This technique would again be used in "A Matter Of Honor", in the same location; after that it would not be used again until "All Good Things...", when all five aft stations would receive video monitors. This modification would carry over into Star Trek Generations.


  • Dr. Pulaski raises the possibility of treating La Forge's blindness via corrective surgery. LeVar Burton had at one time campaigned for his character's sight to be restored so he could use his expressive eyes. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 73) suggests that this scene was added to prepare for this possibility. Following this episode, the idea is dropped, and is never mentioned again during the course of the series. Later, La Forge "grew" new eyes as a result of the effects of the anti-time distortion in the series finale "All Good Things...", and eventually had his eyes replaced with ocular implants sometime prior to the events of Star Trek: First Contact. His eyes indeed regenerated temporarily in Star Trek: Insurrection because of the Ba'ku planet's effects. They manifested the same effect as Dr. Pulaski described.
  • The mention of Riva negotiating peace treaties between the Klingons and the Federation was an early attempt to explain how those former enemies became allies. It was later superseded in Yesterday's Enterprise, which established that peace was achieved through the sacrifice of the Enterprise-C, and, of course, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country finally showed that peace was achieved even earlier. (citation needededit)

Reception Edit

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Special appearance by Edit

Guest stars Edit


Co-stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

9th century; anarchy; As You Like It; blindness; cease fire; chicken; deaf; Denkir IV; ear; Earth; empathic; Federation; Fendaus V; gestural language; gesture; hemophilia; House of Hanover; kilometer; Klingon Empire; Klingonese; laser weapons; lateral sensor array; Leyron; Lima Sierra system; M-9; magnetic field; magnetosphere; Malkus IX; Milky Way Galaxy; NCC-7100; number one; ocular implant; optic nerve; optic nerve laser welding; Ramatis III; Ramatis system; replicator; sign language; Solais V; Solais system; Solari; Solari wars; standard orbit; Transporter Room Five; VISOR

Library computer references Edit

fingerspelling; future imperfect; Goddard, Robert H.; Jupiter; magnetic field; magnetosphere; NASA; past semi-subjunctive; Pioneer 11; telescope; Saturn; Sol; Sol system; solar wind; Sputnik; United States Declaration of Independence; Zambrano, Battle of

Unreferenced materialEdit

Plaeties system

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"The Outrageous Okona"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 2
Next episode:
"The Schizoid Man"

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