Episode of the Week: 2x05 "Loud As A Whisper"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Season 2 was off to a really bad start. First we get Troi being raped by a magical space star, we have Geordi being a complete kindergartner to Data and we get an entire episode dedicated to the black hole that is Okona. It's funny how out of the first four episodes of this season, it's the series dreaded "bottle show" that manages to turn a cheap premise into a really special episode. Episode five of Season two finally gives Star Trek something that I personally think wasn't done enough. A story about culture, communication, and the pursuit of understanding. It's refreshing, well acted, inoffensive and, believe it or not, I found it to be quite up lifting in the end.

    The episode starts out pretty routine with the Enterprise arriving at a planet to pick up a deaf alien named Riva. He's played by actor Howie Seago who is actually deaf in real life. Riva's role in this is to help bring peace to a war torn planet. What almost seemed silly turns out to be tolerable when Riva communicates using a so-called "chorus" of three individuals who he telepathically communicates his specific emotional thoughts through. It's a neat idea, I just hope that one chorus member that Riva needs doesn't go on a bathroom break during a crucial moment.

    Without a doubt, the number one thing that came out of this episode was how Troi finally managed to be a valuable crew member. This is really the first episode I watched with Troi that really solidifies her high ranking position onboard the Enterprise. When you have a planet with two warring factions and the only one who can stop it loses all confidence, it's Troi that helps bring everything back together. The relationship between her and Riva is also handled very well without ever crossing into the "romance of the week" angle. And while Riva himself certainly has some goofy elements about him, Howie Seago gives a really good performance. For a character with no dialogue played by an actor who cannot hear, he really sells all of the emotions that his character conveys.

    Another element that I enjoy is how the crew try to communicate with Riva when his Orchestra are killed. At first I thought that it was kind of silly that no one knew or understood sign language (even Data), but considering how far medical technologies have come in Star Trek, it wasn't hard to conclude deafness and the inability to speak can be treated and universal translators would render sign language obsolete. Thankfully not obsolete enough that there are still records of sign language in the computers detailed enough so that anyone can learn how to use it properly. It's a nice instance where the writers actually want to do something good with Star Trek's technology that can be useful rather than showcase how freaking awesome we are ("The Neutral Zone" where the ship's security pretty much allows anyone to go anywhere).

    But by far my favorite moment in this episode is the last scene with Picard and Troi in his ready room.

    Anyone who's been watching this series from the start should know how rare it was for Picard to do a thing like this. When Geordi got his promotion to Chief Engineer in "The Child", Picard didn't even crack a smile. It's nice knowing that when your episodes aren't written by Maurice Hurley, the characters are allowed to act like humble and decent people. Speaking of Maurice, I wonder what he thought of this episode...

    Oh, just give us the Borg already and go back to Baywatch.

    Stinger:
    Picard: "Oh, cluck, cluck, cluck, Number One."
     
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    It's is a good, if not great, episode. I have noticed, re-watching the series, that early TNG doesn't introduce much jeopardy at act breaks. I think that is especially evident in this installment. I wonder if that was some sort of mandate from Hurley, Berman, or Roddenberry?
     
  3. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I really enjoy this episode, out of all the season two episodes this is one of a handful that I tend to rewatch fairly often. Happy to have it in HD now!
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    This was easily one of the best episodes of the series so far when it aired, and it was significantly better than all in the second season before it. Besides drama, there was humor, such as the reduction of the chorus while dating Troi, and Data's bit about the blue ocean at sunset was a scream.
     
  5. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A true Trek story. A great vehicle for Deanna. Inspired casting of Riva. I can't help but feel that Geordi could have been much better utilised in this one.

    Riker; "It's not our job to police the galaxy" - This was obviously meant as a political statement, one that refered to the foreign policy of the U.S. at the time the episode was written. But it's a false statement, there are many times when the Enterpise has been called to "police" something. In this instance, whether they like it or not, they are involved merely by transporting the mediator. Why did Picard and company not know that the mediator was deaf? He "negotiated several treaties between the Klingons and the Federation". Does Starfleet not brief their Captains before sending them on an errand?

    Stinger: Picard grabbing hold of the deaf mans ears and SHOUTING.AT.HIM.SLOWLY to be understood.
     
  6. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    One nice touch i liked was how the chorus was killed with one sweeping shot. Theoreticaly, missing with a phaser should be like missing with a flashlight. At least until they went from beams to 'shots'.

    DS9 Rocks and Shoals quibble: "How the **** do you use a rock to hide behind a PHASER?" Those are *some* rocks.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    When the mission involves ferrying negotiators, clearly and consistently not. Nobody told Picard that Riva would be deaf; that Sarek would be senile; or that Odan would be a slug.

    It makes a weird sort of sense. Negotiators are men (women, slugs, whatever) with many secrets. They have to lie and hide a lot in their line of work, up to and including about their own person. Too much knowledge about them would compromise their mission: if the crew knew, they might let slip. The negotiator really needs to be made of teflon.

    Remember ST6 and a phaser vaporizing a kettle but not the contents? It's not an issue of the beam removing soft things and leaving the hard ones - it's apparently an issue of the beam only ever being tuned for a certain kind of thing. If it removes rocks, it won't hurt a person, and vice versa.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think in DS9 they toned down the power of phasers so they could have more interesting ground battles, except when they were being used at a very close range to execute someone.

    In TOS and TNG phasers were kind of inconsistently destructive. They vaporize a complete object but don't harm the ground around it. In Frame of Mind Riker implied a phaser at the highest setting could destroy half a building, yet nobody ever turns them up that high.
     
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Well, one time that immediately comes to my mind is when Data opens up a can of whoopass on the aqueduct in The Ensigns of Command.
     
  10. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Today on Earth there are fifty or sixty major gestural languages, and hundreds of minor ones. In the Federation of the 24th century, the number could easily be in the thousands.

    Not all deaf people wish to be "fixed." Because they do not view being deaf as a problem, it simply is the way they and those within their community naturally are.

    Vulcans can communicate telepathically, but those who can not do so, are not lacking. Among the species in and out of the Federation, there could be entire species who never developed verbal and hearing organs. A gestural language would be a requirement for them to interact with others.

    Were you referring to the Soviet Union's military finally pulling out of Afghanistan, or some other American foreign policy achievement of that time period?

    :)
     
  11. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    T'Girl, I'm not a bigot. I wasn't trying to imply that everyone should conform to how others view health. If anyone wants to remain deaf, that's their choice and I respect that. I just hope that those who look at being deaf as normal don't preach to those who do want to hear again about how un-normal such an act would be.
     
  12. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Let's not be too knee-jerk PC here though. Many of those who are born deaf wish to remain deaf because hearing again would make them lose their personal community, and in a modern age in a developed country it is certainly not a bad survival trait. Socially there's absolutely nothing wrong with being deaf, but it does happen to be a condition that is caused by one of our organs not successfully functioning the way it was designed to.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with being deaf, I just prefer not to redefine science to fit modern cultural norms.
     
  13. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You've misquoted me. I never said that. Jeyl did.

    I do not understand your question. "American foreign policy achievement"? If you're referring to the CIA being responsible for training the muhajadeen who were in turn responsible for turfing out the Soviets, look how that turned out, hardly a "foreign policy achievement". The political statement I took from the line I mentioned was that a government should leave well alone when it comes to others affairs. "It's not our job to police the galaxy" or "It's not America's job to police the world". That is not to say I agree or disagree with the statement, I am merely noting that it was put there by a notably liberal creative team.
     
  14. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A good solid episode that nicely doesn't present any easy answers for a change. You're left with the feeling it's going to be a long road at the end and that's no bad thing.

    It's also nice that Riva is presented as a rounded person (or at least as much as any guest star on the show ever is), with strengths and weaknesses rather than the more typical one dimensional plucky brave souls disabled people are often portrayed as on TV (a category to which Geordi could even arguably belong).

    And yeah, that phaser shot is awesome.
     
  15. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    First, I apologize for attributing one of your quotes to someone else.

    I don't think you a bigot at all, I was bring forward a piece of information that might not have been common knowledge, and using it to offer an explanation as to why Riva was deaf in a society that had advanced medical abilities. Also why the crew wouldn't know Riva's particular gestural language.

    As I understand it, there are rare cases of this.

    I watched an excellent episode of Law and Order last fall on this subject, a young woman receiving pressure from members of the deaf community not to have an operation (cochlear implant?) to become "normal."

    Yes, I did misattribute the quote to you, mea culpa.

    I was inquiring as to which "foreign policy of the U.S. at the time the episode was written" that you were referring to. The only event of significance at the time the episode was produced and released (I admit to not knowing when it was written) was the military pull out from Afghanistan. This as achieved not primarily through arms to rebels (although this helped), but through diplomatic and trade pressure by the US and others in the international community against the Soviet Union.

    :)
     
  16. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "I" wasn't - the writers were. Foreign policy can be broad-sweeping, not specific. The foreign policy of the U.S. at the time was moving to a "policing of the world" as the Soviet Empire crumbled leaving one Super Power. As I explained in my reply above, I was not agreeing or disagreeing with Rikers statement, just noting that the writers had put it there. Although I am surprised that someone would think that "arms to rebels helped" the situation in Afghanistan. :wtf:

    Nice to meet you btw, and nice to have someone new join the "episode of the week" thread. Hope you'll stick around. :bolian:
     
  17. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think so too. You should see Charlie Wilson’s War.

    It’s something of an urban myth that arms and training provided by America to the Mujahideen were later turned against America. It’s not true. The only way in which American aid to the Mujahideen contributed to later terrorist attacks is that it helped eliminate the Soviet enemy and left them looking for a new enemy.

    And I hope this doesn’t sound too callous, but even if Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, the Cole and 9/11 are the price we paid for bringing an end to the Cold War... it was worth it.
     
  18. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmm, I know where you're coming from but I'm not so sure. At least we knew where we stood during the Cold War. MAD was a stabaliser of sorts, as mad as that sounds. At least we knew who had nukes back then. Now any crazed cell with a grudge has the potential to get hold of fissile material to make a "dirty bomb".
     
  19. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Dirty bombs might make for good television, but they don’t make effective WMDs.

    From Wikipedia:
     
  20. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmmm. Seems I have been a victim of this "weapon of mass deception". I think our leaders like it that way.