(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise brings a deaf negotiator to mediate the end of a planetary civil war.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 42477.2. The Enterprise has been diverted to the Ramatis star system. It seems that both sides of a bitter planetary conflict have petitioned Starfleet to transport to their world a mediator they have mutually selected. Our orders are transportation only, no interference."
The war-torn planet Solais V, desperate for peace, calls for the famous mediator Riva to hear their dispute. This man, being deaf, 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. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Worf, and Deanna Troi are transported down to Ramatis III to pick up Riva. Prior to beaming down, Troi senses some discomfort from Worf. At first Worf denies it, but Troi insists and continues to press 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." When Picard, Worf, and Troi eventually materialize on Ramatis III, however, there is no one to be found.
Riva eventually arrives, coming close to each one of them without speaking. Then, three others arrive, calling themselves his chorus. They explain that they are his interpreters, since he is deaf. In fact, for many generations there have been people like Riva and interpreters like them, since he comes from the ruling line on his world that all lack the gene for hearing. They call themselves the scholar, the warrior, and that which binds them. It's a beautiful method of interpretation, Troi admits. Riva is impressed and attracted by her telepathic capabilities and, foremost, by her beauty.
At first, Picard angers Riva by speaking to the scholar member of his chorus, angrily telling the captain that he should speak only to him. Picard apologizes, insisting he meant no insult in the inadvertent breach of protocol, which Riva accepts, telling Picard that no insult is now perceived. Riva, through his chorus, tells Troi she has a fine mind and Picard politely tells the mediator that the situation on Solais V is worsening. He agrees to be beamed up to the Enterprise along with his chorus.
Riva and his interpreters arrive on the bridge to meet some of the bridge crew. He very diplomatically greets each of William T. Riker, Geordi La Forge and Data by commenting on Data's uniqueness and La Forge's VISOR. He then asks that Troi show him to his quarters. There, he asks her to dinner after a briefing from Picard's team.
In the observation lounge, Picard, Riker and Data have prepared a lengthy briefing on the conflict, however, all Riva needed to hear was that the fighting started over some historical event a long time ago and that something recent has changed prompting a desire for peace. Confident in his abilities, he decides to leave the meeting early and prepare for his dinner.
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. Suddenly, their dinner is interrupted by Picard. The Enterprise reached Solais V and Picard discovered that the ceasefire on Solais V has been broken. Upon Picard's request, Riva approaches the bridge to communicate with the two factions. Beyond all skepticism, Riva successfully stops the fighting. Picard shows him to the computer in order to locate a meeting spot on Solais V to conduct the peace meeting. He chooses the site of the Battle of Zambrano, on a hilltop. Through the scholar member of his chorus, Riva tells Picard that the time for killing has come to an end.
Worf, Riker, Riva and his chorus beam down to the site. Riva calls for a specific kind of table and torches from the Enterprise to set the stage, though the two factions arrive before they are beamed down. During this initial meeting, Riva tells the two factions that they have shown true courage by coming to this summit. As Riva continues to speak, 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 quickly throws up his hands, pleading for them to stay. In the confusion, Riker orders immediate beam-out of Riva, along with himself and Worf.
Despite the subsequent pleas of both faction leaders, Riva is very distraught and refuses to continue with the negotiations, but frantically expresses this in some kind of sign language no one can understand. In the observation lounge, Picard quickly asks Data to attempt to learn his type of sign language and to get Dr. Katherine Pulaski to see if she can develop some way of helping him communicate. Riva continues to be frustrated. Picard grabs Riva by his head and tries to tell him that while his chorus is dead, he is not alone. They are all in this situation together. This made an impact on him, and he leaves with Troi.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We are monitoring increased military activity on Solais V. I fear that without Riva, we will be unable to keep the Solari from destroying themselves"
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. They now understand that 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 in their stead because while he considers Data a fine machine, he cannot deliver the necessary emotions found in his translator's voices.
Meanwhile, Geordi La Forge and Dr. Pulaski discuss La Forge's 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, surprised and overwhelmed, decides to take time to think about his decision.
Troi tells Riva that she will be conducting the negotiations in his place. She asks him for help on how to properly negotiate with the hostile factions. 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. He agrees to try it himself.
- "First officer's log, Stardate 42479.3. We leave the Solais system confident that Riva will help the Solari achieve a lasting peace."
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.
"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..."
- - 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
- First draft script: 4 November 1988
- Final draft script: 10 November 1988 
- Premiere airdate: 9 January 1989
- First UK airdate: 1 May 1991
Story and script
- 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). 
- 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 1 console. This technique was again used, in "A Matter Of Honor", in the same location; after that, it wasn't used again until "All Good Things...", when all five aft stations received video monitors. This modification carried over into Star Trek Generations.
- Wil Wheaton and William Shatner met for the first time while this episode was being filmed. Shatner was not kind to Wheaton, and Wheaton now tells the story of the encounter for comedy. 
- 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 is also seen in use in the second season opener "The Child".
- 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 was 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 USS Enterprise-C, and, of course, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country finally showed that peace was achieved even earlier. (citation needed • edit)
- After this episode aired, the producers received supportive mail from both deaf and hearing people. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 73))
- Melinda Snodgrass was pleased with how this episode used Troi. She commented, "Troi got to show her claws and she gives this guy a boost." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 175)
- Maurice Hurley opined, "An okay episode. I had higher expectations than the way it turned out. It should have been more effective." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 175)
- A mission report for this episode, by Patrick Daniel O'Neill, was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 7, pp. 8-12.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 16, catalog number VHR 2469, 1 July 1991
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 2.2, catalog number VHR 4738, 12 April 1999
- As part of the TNG Season 2 DVD collection
- The synopsis of this episode on the DVD sleeve states, "Civil war looms when an important diplomat is attacked and silenced aboard Enterprise". However, the diplomat (Riva) was not attacked during the episode, only his chorus were attacked, and this did not happen aboard Enterprise but on the planet's surface.
- As part of the TNG Season 2 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
Special appearance by
- Colm Meaney as Transporter Chief
- Richard Lavin as Warrior #1
- Chip Heller as Warrior #2
- John Garrett as Lieutenant
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Juliet Cesario as sciences officer
- Dexter Clay as operations officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as command officer
- Peter as Solari lieutenant
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown actress as female conn officer
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton & hand double for Howie Seago
9th century; "all right"; "a lot"; address; "a mother hen"; anarchy; ancestors; anguish; answer; appointment; area; arrogance; art; artist; As You Like It; "at least"; attitude; auditory information; away team; balance; battle; beach; beauty; blindness; blue; body; brain; bravery; briefing; brother; candidate; cease fire; century; ceremonial function; ceremonial greeting; chance; chief engineer; choice; cluck; clue; complement; conference; confidence; conflict; confrontation; confusion; contributor; coordinates; courage; course; culture; deaf; death; degeneration; Denkir IV; despair; dinner; dream; dreamer; ear; Earth; electromagnetic spectrum; emissary; emotion; empathic; enemy; experience; extinction; eye; facsimile; faction; fear; feeling; Fendaus V; Fendaus V leaders; fighter; flattery; food; fool; friend; gene; gestural language; gesture; "go ahead"; "good luck"; hailing frequency; hatred; head; hearing; hemophilia; heredity; hospitality; hostility; House of Hanover; impulse; "in any case"; idea; "in common"; individual; "in fact"; "in love"; input; insult; intellect; interpreter; job; journey; judgment; jurisdiction; kilometer; Klingon Empire; Klingonese; knot; land; laser weapons; leader; Leyron; libido; life sign; Lima Sierra; Lima Sierra system; limb; lip; logic; lover; lust; M-9; machine; magic; Malkus IX; mass; meaning; mediator; medical examination; meeting; Milky Way Galaxy; mind; mission; month; NCC-7100; negotiation; number one; ocean; ocular implant; "of course"; optic nerve; optical device; orbit; order; pain; passion; peace; peacemaker; percent; perception; permission; phaser; philosophy; planet; poet; portfolio; presentation; price; problem; prosthesis; protocol; puzzle; psyche; quality; quarters; Ramatis III (aka Ramatis); Ramatis star system; Ramatisian; reason; relationship; replicator; report; risk; Riva's ancestors; Riva's Chorus ancestors; rock; romantic; room; rule; secret; security team; sensor; sign language; society; Solais V; Solais system; Solari; Solari wars; sound; speech; standard orbit; Starfleet; stump; summit; sunset; surgical techniques; surprise; suspicion; table; tangible asset; thought; "to date"; topographical overlay; torch; traitor; translator; transmission; Transporter Room Five; treaty; trick; truth; United Federation of Planets; velocity; viewer; viewscreen; vision; VISOR; visual range; "wait a minute"; warrior; wealth; wisdom; word; written language; year
- Planet Solais Five/Geographic Data Ref 433-88: cross reference; lateral sensor array; transporter coordinates; Zambrano, Battle of
- Non-Verbal Languages (Gestural) M-9: 1926; 1957; 1973; 1979; American; artificial satellite; bibliography; billion; cheek; classroom; conversation; distance; error; face; fingerspelling; "for instance"; future imperfect; Goddard, Robert H.; government; habit; happiness; invention; Joy of Signing, The; Jupiter; kilometer; letter; liberty; magnetic field; magnetosphere; mankind; manual; mirror; NASA; page; partner; past semi-subjunctive; person; Pioneer 11; propellant; reference; right; rocket; Saturn; September; simultaneous method of communication; skill; Sol; Sol system; solar wind; space; Space Age; Sputnik; syllable; telescope; United States Declaration of Independence; United States of America
- "Loud as a Whisper" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Loud as a Whisper" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Loud as a Whisper" at Wikipedia
- "Loud as a Whisper" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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