By coincidence, I review another one of this fall's military action/dramas that has a female CIA operative in the mold of Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty.
No, it's not Anne Heche in the well-reviewed The Brave but rather Jessica Pare in the not-so-well-reviewed SEAL Team.
On SEAL Team Season 1, Episode 4, Pare's Mandy made a quip about her sexuality to cover up her lonely career woman life, and I joked in my review that it would have been more interesting if the show had made the character bisexual or lesbian.
Well, a genie must have heard me wish that, but she granted the wish on Valor rather than on SEAL Team.
In a plot twist I did not see coming, Thea, whom I have previously have referred to as implausibly young CIA operative, spends the night with Zoe Cho (Chelle Ramos), the previously unseen only other woman in Nora's unit.
So, it is revealed that Thea, who had continued her flirtation with Ian, was certainly not as interested in him as she appeared and certainly isn't pining for him. She might be bi, or she might be a lesbian, but she at least has a healthy and happy sex life.
The CW has a pretty good track record with queer ships, too, so this is a welcome twist.
Things have to be different. We’re home now, and they’re watching us. You know that.Leland
On the other hand, since the CIA possibly plays a villainous role in the show's central mystery, there's a danger of the show engaging in the tired "bisexual or lesbian villainess" trope.
However, I'm hopeful that Thea will turn out to be more of a gray character, and she will turn out to be a good CIA operative and not involved in the nastiness around Davis.
More importantly, I'm hoping things about the characters of Valor, which says a lot about how much of an improvement Valor Season 1 Episode 3 was on the previous two episodes.
Another character I am feeling things for is Ian. Poor Ian. He's not Thea's number one choice. He's sweet. He's caring. He's a whip-smart intelligence officer. His mom's a congresswoman, and he's everyone's second choice.
Leland: I don't know what I have faith in anymore.
Nora: I have faith in you.
Leland: That's sweet.
He's even Nora's second choice, and Nora is a hot mess. She's got symptoms of PTSD, she's popping pills, she's pining Leland, she's worried about Jimmy, and she's investigating Davis's history. Frankly, the show is piling too much on its lead character.
Nora is at her best in this episode when she is tracking down Davis's sister Deidre and evading the sinister agents trailing her. She's competent, and she's smart, despite being tormented by memories. The pill subplot seems a bridge too far.
I keep thinking about the dominoes.Nora
It's just not necessary because the Davis mystery remains a genuine puzzle and is unfolding in surprising ways. The fact that Davis had a coaster from his sister's diner in his Somalian shack was a great touch, too.
So was the twist that Deidre suspects her brother was a traitor and her suspicions leading to Nora worrying that she and Leland set a traitor free. I'm almost 100% sure that Davis was not a traitor, but Nora thinking he is added some real tension.
Another cool twist was Jimmy revealing that he was raised a Muslim and his attempts at using this to win over his captors. It added an interesting dynamic to what had started to feel like generic captivity scenes.
On the other hand, I thought there was chemistry between Jimmy's wife Jess and the single dad she had been flirting with, almost had an affair with, and almost had dinner with. I know I was supposed to be glad when Jess broke their date, but I was kind of disappointed. That was based on one scene of mild flirting.
That brings me to Leland and Nora. Yes, they had a pretty hot make-out session on Valor Season 1 Episode 1, but their relationship seems pretty forced. In fact, I would say the following pairings have more chemistry:
- Thea and Zoe
- Jess and Single Dad
- Thea and Ian
- Nora and Ian
- Leland and administrative assistant
- Coogan and Nora (even though he made a sexist remark that was gross)
So, even though the show has improved tremendously since the pilot, the major romance isn't working that well. Hopefully, the writers will keep developing other characters and stories and not depend on the whole Leland/Nora thing to sustain the show.
Also, I recognize that the show is highly unrealistic with respect to its handling of military matters, but at least Leland hasn't let his scruff grow back. It's all about suspension of disbelief. This isn't the US Military. It's the CW Military. I'm fine with that, especially if the surprises keep coming.
I'll be praying for both of us.Jimmy
Do you agree that the show has improved? Do you think Leland and Nora have chemistry? Do you think Thea is a stone cold villain? Do you think Ian will ever catch a break? Comment below.
If you missed this week's episode, you can also watch Valor online.
Melissa Marshall is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.