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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Loud As A Whisper

July 12, 2013

I think I’ll take my computer to the shop today. The rattle needs to be fixed. I just hope it doesn’t take too long to fix. Or cost too much. Anyway, Trek. Originally aired January 9, 1989. Stardate 42477.2. The Enterprise is picking up a mediator being sent to a planet that’s been at war for centuries. Picard is actually trying to figure out why a planet has an orbit that should be impossible. It’s actually a really nice moment showing Picard’s love of a good scientific mystery. Picard heads to the transporter to beam down to meet the mediator, Riva. Troi notices that Worf is agitated. Worf explains it’s because of Riva. He negotiated peace treaties between the Klingons and the Federation. “Before him, there was no Klingon word for ‘peace-maker.'” Picard, Worf and Troi beam down.

After the credits, we meet Riva. He examines each of the three without saying anything. He takes a platform, and three people (two men and a woman) come out and stand in front of him. They speak for him, and he flirts with Troi. Picard catches on that Riva is deaf-mute, with the three people speaking on his behalf. There’s the Scholar, Passion, and Harmony (the Woman). The Chorus hears Riva’s thoughts. It’s a bit of a long scene, but necessary exposition. They do try to make it interesting, though Riva’s flirtations with Troi are a bit weird. She looks weirded out, too.

After the break, Riva’s taken to the Bridge. Geordi explains his Visor, creating a bond between Geordi and Riva. Riva leaves with Troi and Passion, leaving Scholar and Woman to be taken to other rooms. Riva and Troi talk, and she begins to show interest. Bleh. Typical. We then cut to the briefing on the conflict. Riva says the briefing is meaningless, that the reasons don’t matter, it’s all personal. Which is stupid. Unbelievably stupid. He also boasts about never having failed. He comes across as an arrogant, condescending dick.  He goes off to have dinner with Troi. He tries to communicate with her through sign language, and she grasps it immediately. The Enterprise reaches the planet, and senses laser fire. They summon Riva to the Bridge. He convinces the two sides to stop fighting.

Another break. A meeting place is prepared, and Riker and Worf beam down with Riva and his Chorus. Riva starts explaining what he needs. The aliens show up, armed. One of the aliens freaks out and tries to kill Riva, Riker grabs him and the Chorus gets hit and disintegrated. Riva’s freaking out in the briefing room, using sign language that no one understands. Worf finds the idea of sign language interesting from a military standpoint. In the briefing room, Riva explains that his arrogance was responsible for the deaths of his Chorus. He feels defeated. Troi tries to convince him to keep trying, but he’s not willing. We then cut to Pulaski giving Geordi options for eyes, including reconnecting the optic nerves and cloning new eyes, to give him normal vision. This never gets revisited. Troi and Data visit Riva again, and Troi says she’s going to try to negotiate a peace. He explains his technique. She actually gives him an idea and convinces him to go back down.

Another break. Riker, Worf, Data, Troi and Riva beam back down. They beam down a table and torches. Troi explains to Riker that Riva’s going to teach the emissaries sign language. The point is that while they learn to communicate with Riva, they’ll also learn to communicate with each other. They leave him behind, and wish him luck. Troi steps in on Picard, back to studying the orbit. Picard thanks her for helping with Riva.

This is an OK episode. Riva’s view on armed conflicts is stupid. He argues the stated causes don’t matter, but they do. While getting the leaders to communicate with each other is an important factor, it’s also important to understand why they’re fighting. His early arrogance is also incredibly annoying. His later fall is well done, I’ll grant that. I’m also not sure of his solution, though. They’ll have to learn sign language before the negotiations can even begin. That’s asking for a lot of patience. Probably more than is reasonable or realistic. And on another note, how did no one know that Riva’s deaf? Or how he communicates? It’s literally impossible for that to be a secret. Did no one even bother reviewing the information on him? It’s stupid. I get that the writers wanted to make it a surprise, but they did it in a really sloppy and implausible manner. I also didn’t much care for his flirtations with Troi. It felt kinda creepy and really superfluous. It didn’t really add much to the story. One last, positive note about Riva: The actor playing him, Howie Seago, is actually deaf. He petitioned for an episode about a deaf character, and actually suggested the ending used.

Once the flirtations were done, Troi actually did get to play a pretty major role in resolving Riva’s crisis of confidence. She used her talents as a counselor in a really good way. It’s nice seeing her get to show off her skills.

The aliens were stupid. They were silly and cartoonish. The way one murders the Chorus was also really badly done. Seriously, it was just terrible. Bad choreography, and bad special effects. It looks cheesy. I mean, the guy points the gun at Riva for probably close to 10 seconds while Riker pulls him out of the way, then fires. And no one else reacts the whole time. It’s stupid. The scene between Geordi and Pulaski ended up being pointless. It didn’t really fit into the episode, and it was never followed up on.

Overall, I think I’d have to give this episode a 3/5. There’s some good stuff in here, no question, but it all feels rather bland in the end. Good ideas handled weakly. It’s worth watching – once.

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