31 – Loud as a Whisper

Grade: C-

Loud As A Whisper (1989) on IMDb


The Enterprise is picking up a mediator from Rematas 3, so they can transport him to Salais 5, where he will help negotiate a peace between two warring factions. The negotiator is deaf and he uses a chorus of three people who read his mind and speak for him.


I’m not terribly fond of this episode, but I do think it’s nice that they tried to find a good role for a deaf actor. I think it’s great to include episodes like this to show that no matter what your disability, you can still find some way to make meaningful contributions in this future. Maybe if I were actually deaf or blind, I’d have a different opinion of this episode, but it seems to work OK.

Overall, this episode isn’t that great. The scenes with Riva and Troi seemed a bit forced, and it didn’t seem natural to me. Troi says she’d like to have dinner with Riva, and yet she seems extremely uncomfortable the entire time.

Speaking of Troi, near the beginning of the episode, she badgers Worf into admitting that he’s uneasy with the situation. It’s pretty unpleasant to watch someone who can read thoughts repeatedly harass someone who would rather not discuss his feelings. Personally, when I don’t want to discuss something, it doesn’t make me want to say anything at all when I’m badgered.

The writing in this episode is not great, either. There are far too many examples of “tell, not show”, which doesn’t have as much impact on the viewer as the opposite approach. For example, we heard about a half-dozen times in the first part of this episode that the Federation needs to remain neutral in this conflict, and the dangers of getting involved, but then nothing happens in the episode to illustrate these dangers. It’s as if the writers expected us to just take their word for it, and that’s just bad writing.

Finally, one reason I rated this episode lower is because of the rather insulting scene between Riva and Picard. After all three members of his telepathic chorus have been killed, he’s trying to communicate with Picard, who obviously can’t read sign language. Picard gets frustrated, and he then grabs Riva and yells at him. I found this rather insulting. It’s not like Riva can hear Picard better if he yells. And what I want to know is why didn’t anyone think to write him notes? Can’t anyone write in the 24th Century?

Of Note

At one point in this episode, Dr. Pulaski says, “I can’t do anything.” For some reason, I thought that was pretty funny – and possibly even true. Ok, that was mean.

In another scene, Worf says “seven to beam up” but there are actually only six spaces on the transporters. Maybe that’s not important.

Finally, we learn that there are three interpreters for this deaf mediator. One of them is supposed to articulate Riva’s intellectual thoughts, while another articulates his passions. But when Picard makes him angry, the intellectual translator yells back, while the passions translator keeps quiet. Oops.