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Summary

The mediator Riva is supposed to negotiate a peace treaty on Solais V. The away team are surprised that the man is deaf and uses a telepathic chorus to communicate: the Woman, the Scholar and the Warrior/Adonis. Riva is confident that he can resolve the conflict just by getting the two factions to talk to each other.

However, upon beaming down to Solais V his chorus is killed by a fanatic warrior. Riva is struck with grief and remorse and wants to return to his home planet. Deanna and Data establish a communication with him; Riva gains new confidence and beams down to the planet to teach the opponents his sign language - turning his disadvantage into an advantage.

Errors and Explanations

Internet Movie Database

Character error

  1. When Data is interpreting for Riva, he speaks the words before Riva signs the word. He also signs words to Riva before Captain Picard speaks them. His study of the sign language probably allows him to predict likely word combinations.

The Nitpicker's Guide
Next Generation Trekkers
Volume 2

Plot Oversights

  1. The away team at the beginning of this episode displays an incredible lack of knowledge about Riva. Obviously no one handles Riva‘s itinerary, or that person would have related all the necessary information to the crew of the Enterprise ahead of time. Such preparations would have reduced or eliminated the possibility of a simple protocol breach like the one Picard causes when he speaks to Riva's interpreters and not to Riva himself. But even if Riva doesn’t have an advance man, why didn't Worf prepare for his arrival? Surely that would include a review of Riva‘s file for any special requirements, and a routine security check. It Riva negotiated several important peace treaties between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, wouldn’t his file be quite large and detailed? Yet the away team doesn't know what he looks like or even that he is deaf. This is probably done to avoid any pre-conceptions, which could distort the negotiations.
  2. While learning a gestural language, Data views several signs more than once. Why? Doesn't Data remember everything to which he is exposed? Some signs have more than one meaning, depending on the context.
  3. After Data learns the gestural language, Picard marches into the observation lounge and calls to Riva even before coming into the man’s visual range. Surprisingly, Riva turns to face them. Either Riva's telepathic abilities allowed him to sense Picard's presence, or he spotted the Captain's reflection in the window.
  4. At one point, alter an examination by Pulaski, La Forge asks, “Are you finished?" Pulaski nods, and La Forge replaces his VISOR. Pulaski nods? To the blind guy? And he responds?! He interpreted her lack of verbal response as confirmation.[N 1]
  5. Presumably the warring factions on Solari V will care for Riva during the negotiations. After all, it doesn‘t look like the crew of the Enterprise left Riva a replicator (unless La Forge snuck one onto the table). Having the Solan's provide for Riva‘s needs seems a bit tricky. After all, you wouldn't want one side thinking the other side is attempting to sway the negotiations by offering Riva a better cut of meat, now, would you? Riva would probably insist of having equal amounts of food and drink from both sides, served at the same time.

Continuity and Production Problems

  1. When Riker, Worf, Riva, and his chorus beam down to Solari V, the creators forgot to put the sparklies on Worf. The other five individuals show the usual transporter "static," but Worf just fades in. Worf's pad could be used to test an experimental sparkle free subroutine for covert missions.
  2. Those clever creators slipped in the Vulcan hand sign among those that flash across the workstation display as Data learns a gestural language from the computer. Riva's people may have independently developed that gesture as part of their sign language.

Nit Central

  1. Keith Alan Morgan on Thursday, May 13, 1999 - 6:19 am: Just when did Riva negotiate these treaties for the Federation and Klingons? By human standards, he seems to be fairly young and some of his chorus look even younger, and yet, I believe he 'said' they grew up together. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the Federation begins negotiations with the Klingons. In Yesterday's Enterprise it's believed that sending the Enterprise C back 22 years to help defend a Klingon outpost would prevent the war. So when exactly did the Klingons and the Federation declare peace and how many years of negotiations did it take before things were as we saw them when The Next Generation began? Like many species in Star Trek, Ramatisians may be older than they look.
  2. In the opening, Picard and Riker are talking about Riva and Picard hopes he can bring peace to "those planets." It is not two planets that are warring it is two groups of people on the planet Solais V. Both side may also be using other planets in the area as fall back positions.
  3. Just before the assassin fires, as Riker gets Riva out of the way, it looks like a gold sleeved arm reaches for 'the chorus.' Did Worf start to try and get them out of the way and then change his mind? Worf may have been attempting to place himself in the line of fire, in order to prevent the assassin's weapon beam reaching the chorus.
  4. If Riva has a chorus that reads his thoughts, then why does he need to know sign language? Probably as a back up, in situations where the chorus may not be permitted to attend the negotianions. Jeff Bernath on Saturday, February 12, 2000 - 8:07 pm: I find it very realistic that Riva knows a gestural language. One would think the "bond" between him and his chorus had to be practiced and learned, so Riva would need some way to communicate until it was completed.
  5. Why is Worf unfamiliar with the idea of sign language? Surely a warrior race would be familiar with non-verbal communication. (Certainly a race that howls and growls.) Also in the later episode Allegiance, Picard signals his bridge crew to trap the two aliens. Klingons may consider using hands to communicate a dishonourable act, as well as preventing the carriage and use of weapons.
  6. If Picard was worried about laser damage to the Enterprise then why did the ship make itself a bigger target by orbiting with the belly of the ship facing the planet instead of sideways as usual? This may have been done to ensure direct line of fire from a greater number of phaser emmitters.
  7. Matt McLauchlin on Thursday, August 05, 1999 - 3:19 pm: I thought it was really funny that out of all the different possible gestural languages that Riva could have known, he just happens to know *American Sign Language*! (And he IS using ASL. I recognized a lot of the signs. Also, the actor Howie Seago who portrayed Riva is himself deaf.) Possibly the Ramatisian version.
  8. LUIGI NOVI on Tuesday, May 22, 2001 - 11:23 pm: Pulaski offers to regenerate Geordi’s optic nerve in Act 4, and he tells her he’ll have to think about it and get back to her, but he never does get back to her, either in this episode, or ever again on the subject for the rest of her stay in the second season. I remember reading somewhere that the creators and LeVar Burton decided against it because they felt it would diminish the ability of physically challenged viewers to identify with the character, defeating one of the whole points of making Geordi blind in the first place, but why didn’t they at least show Geordi give Pulaski his answer? They just left it hanging. margie on Thursday, May 24, 2001 - 12:02 pm:Maybe he's still thinking about it?
  9. Chris Diehl on Tuesday, April 08, 2003 - 9:49 am: If Riva was determined not to bring such a large retinue, should Picard not have ordered a contingent of security personnel to beam down and bodyguard Riva, the Chorus and the leaders of the opposing groups? It would show how seriously the Federation takes Solaris' problems, and one would have to be mad to take a potshot at someone protected by Starfleet. The representatives of the two warring sides probably insisted on minimal security as a display of trust.
  10. John A. Lang on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 10:12 am: Pulaski states that Riva and his race have no auditory nerves nor anything that causes other species to hear. However, Riva still has ears. Are they there just for "decoration"? Vashti on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 6:54 pm: It's not Riva's species that has no ability to hear, but his particular (inbred royal) family line that has no hearing centre in the brain. This is why he has ears.
  11. Vashti on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 6:54 pm: Why does Picard, the consummate diplomat, need to be told to address Riva instead of his chorus? Isn't this standard protocol for dealing with any kind of interpreter? There may be little or no need for the Federation to use interpreters since the introduction of the Univeral Translator.

Ex Astris Scientia

  1. Since when are peace negotiations held with weapons? Wouldn't a really good negotiator set up the prerequisite that everyone has to appear unarmed? The warring parties may refuse to attend if they were banned from bringing their weapons.
  2. Why does the fanatic soldier aim at Riva and not at the leader of the enemy faction? The enemy leader would just be replaced by one of his subordinates - Riva would be almost impossible to replace before the desire for peace fades away.
  3. The Solari are said to have lasers only but the effect of their weapon looks like that of a disruptor. This could be an experimental modification.

Notes

  1. Listed as a character error on the Internet Movie Database entry.


The Next Generation Season 2
The Child I Where Silence Has Lease I Elementary, Dear Data I The Outrageous Okona I The Schizoid Man I Loud as a Whisper I Unnatural Selection I A Matter of Honor I The Measure of a Man I The Dauphin I Contagion I The Royale I Time Squared I The Icarus Factor I Pen Pals I Q Who I Samaritan Snare I Up the Long Ladder I Manhunt I The Emissary I Peak Performance I Shades of Gray