Series: The Next Generation
Air Date: January 9, 1989
Written by: Jacqueline Zambrano
Directed by: Larry Shaw
Riva the Mediator, a deaf person who communicates telepathically through a "chorus", learns how to communicate without a "chorus".
Solias V wants peace after fighting among themselves for decades and they request Riva to help them achieve it. Riva is a very famous mediator and Worf says that before he mediated treaties between Klingons and the Federation, there was no Klingon word for "peacemaker". What makes him especially unique is that he is deaf and communicates exclusively telepathically through the use of a chorus. When Picard, Riker and Troi beam down to his planet, they find that the chorus of three people act as his voice, representing aspects of his personality, while Riva just stares meaningfully at people.
Riva takes an immediate liking to Troi. When they get back on the ship, he asks that she show him to his room and they have a nice chat with each other. They share a meal and briefly learn to communicate though hand motions alone. Meanwhile, Picard has discovered that the ceasefire on Solias V has been broken and they're continuing to battle. They are immediately requesting Riva's presence, so no more snoggy time for him. A brash, brazen deaf man, emboldened by his interaction with Troi, beams down to the planet with his chorus and Riker and Worf. He confronts the two sides of the war, but suddenly a rogue member of one of the sides shoots at him, misses, but kills his entire chorus.
|Next time you lose your voice, imagine this.|
In the middle of all this, Geordi goes to sick bay for a check up on his VISOR. Pulaski says that she could give him some ocular implants to make him look more normal, but Geordi decides to take time to think about it. It would give him 80% of the vision provided by the VISOR (which, let's be honest, is still more than most sighted people), but it would be provided at a greater risk. This is the start of a great arch for Geordi in which he learns to be comfortable with himself even with his disability.
|No eye could look as cool as this VISOR.|
He sets up a table and two torches to inform the people that negotiations are to continue and then he explains that he is going to turn his disadvantage, only being able to communicate through sign language, into an advantage by teaching the people of Solias V sign language over several months. This will help them to bond over the course of the negotiations and when they're finally able to communicate with Riva, they will have better communicated with themselves.
|Negotiator level 9000|
This is a pretty great episode. I like it when they focus on the aspects of a single character, whether it's a recurring part of the crew, or just a negotiator trying to bring peace to a war-torn planet. This episode is simple, but poignant, teaching people to make the best out of whatever disadvantage they find themselves in. The only problem I had was why Troi wasn't able to communicate with Riva telepathically. That seems like something that should at least have been explained.