If something is made for a noble reason, and produced with the best of intentions, but still winds up feeling simplistic and on-the-nose, should we cut it a break? Or should we strictly stick to how an episode is executed? "Loud as a Whisper" is a difficult episode to review, because I applaud its intentions so deeply yet can't deny it's a pretty awful piece of television.
The Enterprise arrives at a planet to collect Riva, a celebrated Federation negotiator, in order to take him to settle a violent civil war on Solais V. The Enterprise crew are surprised to learn that Riva is profoundly deaf, and communicates via three telepathic translators. When all three translators are murdered in a disastrous first meeting on Solais V, Riva must find a way to recover from the emotional blow and learn a new way to communicate.
Guest star Howie Seago is, like Riva, deaf. He proposed an episode about a deaf character directly to The Next Generation's producers, and they happily took the project on. This was a great thing - deaf characters rarely get to be seen on television, and "Loud as a Whisper" does seem like a great idea on paper. That's the problem, however, it seems good on paper.