Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Marnie Mosiman (Woman)
Randy Oglesby (The Scholar)
Leo Damian (Adonis)
Richard Lavin (Warrior #1)
Chip Heller (Warrior #2)
John Garrett (Lieutenant)
Howie Seago (Riva)
The idea behind this episode is quite a nice one – Riva, a deaf man (and also mute) who has become a negotiator in peace treaties – speaks (presumably via telepathy) through a group of three people called his “Chorus”. Each member of the chorus represents a different aspect of his personality.
Whilst on an especially tough mission (one in which Riva was asked for) the two factions start a firefight and the chorus are killed, leaving Riva with only sign language to communicate with. Data is, of course, proficient, but Riva turns this disadvantage into an advantage and stays on the planet with the warring factions, the idea being that he will teach them sign language so they can continue with the negotiations.
So, if the idea is so good (which it is) why is this episode so bad? Well, it’s not the concept, it is the delivery. I don’t know if there is deliverate religious iconography here, but Riva resembles a bit of a stereotypical image of Jesus, from his facial hair down to his clothes – well, what Jesus would have looked like if he had been around in the late eighties, anyhow.
And the direction does not help. You cannot help but feel that the chorus should not be getting close ups, they should always be in the background of Riva’s shots – the scene in the conference room is especially badly done. The only scene where they get it right is the one where Troi and Riva have dinner, and you have one of the chorus (the one that represents shagging) out of focus in the background of the shot. And he leaves soon anyway!
The deaths of the Chorus are sudden, and a bit rubbish. Oh, and the “exterior” of the planet looks dreadful – it was probably the legendary “planet hell” soundstage full of rocks, bad lighting and a horrific backlit background. This is the sort of rubbish that should have ended with the old series, but we keep seeing in on TNG and it never fails to unimpress.
It’s a shame that this is so awful – it’s actually a rather original idea for an episode, and with better casting (the actor who played Riva was actually deaf, a PC act that perhaps damaged the episode. Controversial…) better direction and better set design (such as setting the meeting on the planet indoors to avoid another visit to planet hell) it could have been much better.
But it wasn’t.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5