Loud as a Whisper

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"Loud as a Whisper"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 5
Directed by Larry Shaw
Written by Jacqueline Zambrano
Featured music Ron Jones
Cinematography by Edward R. Brown
Production code 132
Original air date January 9, 1989 (1989-01-09)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Outrageous Okona"
Next →
"The Schizoid Man"

"Loud as a Whisper" is the fifth episode of the second season of the syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 31st episode overall. It first aired January 9, 1989 and is written by Jackie Zambrano and directed by Larry Shaw.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, the Enterprise ferries a deaf and mute ambassador (Howie Seago) who leads difficult peace talks.


Federation mediator Riva (Howie Seago) is brought aboard the starship Enterprise, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), to help resolve a dispute between warring tribes on planet Solais V. Riva is deaf from a hereditary genetic deficiency, but has his "chorus" (Marnie Mosiman, Thomas Oglesby and Leo Damian), an entourage of three people in telepathic communication with Riva and able to enunciate his thoughts. Riva is aware that the centuries-long struggle for the tribes of Solais V has long been about personal beliefs rather than any tangible assets. When Riva, his chorus, and the Enterprise officers transport down to meet tribe representatives, a warrior resistant to the peace process fires upon Riva's chorus, killing them. The warrior's leader brands him a traitor and summarily executes him. The leader then begs Riva and the away team to stay as they leave the area via emergency beam-up.

On the Enterprise, as Riva struggles to communicate with the crew, Captain Picard orders Commander Data (Brent Spiner) to find and learn Riva's sign language and assist with translation. Captain Picard offers to stand in Riva's place for the mediation, but Riva knows that the Solais tribes will only cooperate with him. Riva is prepared to return to his home planet as they will be unable to complete successful negotiations. Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) speaks with Riva through Data's translation and tries to understand what tactics he would need for completing the negotiations. Riva responds that he always seeks to make each group express themselves to the other, forcing them to listen and turning a disadvantage to an advantage. In discussing the issue with Troi, Riva is inspired.

Riva, through Data, announces he will continue negotiations, and arranges a meeting spot on the planet. To the crew's surprise, he tells them that they should return to the ship and leave, and he will signal Starfleet when the negotiations are complete, possibly months later. The crew realizes that in order for the tribes to work with Riva, they will be forced, together, to learn sign language from Riva, and quite possibly learn to work in peace together. Riva acknowledges his conversation with Troi, and converts his disadvantage of being unable to communicate into an advantage. The crew leaves Riva to await the tribe representatives.


Howie Seago, who is deaf, approached the show's producers with the idea of a deaf mediator. The initial idea came from his wife, who is a fan of Star Trek. The writers originally wanted Seago's character to learn to speak after his chorus is killed, but Seago was opposed to the idea, as it could perpetuate the practice of forcing deaf children to speak. The producers were understanding of his concerns and wrote a new draft.[1]


Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club rated the episode B- and wrote that the episode is "often painfully earnest in its philosophical meanderings, and it's nearly impossible to watch without snickering in places, but it's also thoughtful, sincere, and, if you can stop rolling your eyes long enough, inspiring."[2]


  1. ^ Farley, Ellen (January 12, 1989). "Stepping Aboard the Starship 'Enterprise'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ Handlen, Zack (June 10, 2010). "Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Outrageous Okona"/"Loud As A Whisper"/"The Schizoid Man"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 

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