VALOR Review: “Blurred Lines”

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Valor continues to be slightly silly and very dramatic, and this week particularly is heavy on drama that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in context, and a conversely a fairly limited amount of action. We spend a lot of time dealing with Jess’s decision to use her press friend to help her leak information about the POWs, including, obviously, Jimmy. She does this as a way to try and light a fire under the army in retrieving Jimmy, because she continuously says that she doesn’t think the army is doing enough fast enough.

This is an odd stance for her to take for a couple of reasons, and while I want to — and do, to some extent — have sympathy for Jess, it’s really hard to do. We spent a whole episode taking Jess from seeking out help from a private contractor to being persuaded to put her faith in the army, because it’s clearly what Jimmy would want since he put his life in their hands on a regular basis. Not only, though, is her husband in the army (duh), but she appears to be best friends with Nora, and quite close with Gallo and Ian as well. Given all of these relationships, it would seem that Jess might, y’know, trust the people who seem to effectively be her family. Especially since, again, we spent an episode getting her to do that. But now we’re back to frantic, desperate Jess, which is understandable, but so frustrating.

When the information about Jimmy and Hendrix (the now dead other POW’s name, I just found out this episode) gets to the papers, they do their own digging and find out that Hendrix has died. The media leaks the news before the Shadow Raiders and other units even hear about it, which is a blow they all take quite hard, understandably. Jess feels badly, but is comforted when the congresswoman comes over to tell her that she’ll make sure that Jimmy doesn’t get forgotten. There’s never been any implication that Jimmy has been forgotten — and you’d think Jess would notice her pals getting deployed literally every week — only the fact that Jess isn’t actually allowed to be privy to the actual mechanics of their rescue operations. But for whatever reason, Jess is insistent that nobody’s doing anything.

This is an understandable emotional place for her to be in. The frustration, and feeling of helplessness being projected onto everybody around her and read as inefficiency all tracks and makes sense. Where Jess totally loses me is in her conviction that her emotions are facts, even though everybody around her has been pretty good about reminding that this isn’t the case. 

Because classified information was leaked to the press, the higher ups have to assume that it came from within the unit. This puts the Shadow Raiders in danger of being taken off of the mission. Which, as Nora points out to Jess before Nora realizes the source of the leak, is bad for Jimmy because assigning a new unit will require extensive briefing and preparation, which will waste time that otherwise would’ve been spent actively looking for Jimmy. Like… duh. Jess seems shocked by this. I’m sure that if you’re in special ops, you are actually good at not telling people you love classified information, unlike most jobs with NDAs. That said, I have a lot of trouble believing that Jess understands so little about her husband’s and life that she would do this. And if she’s just being wilfully dense about the whole thing, then I like her even less. I don’t know. The whole thing just seems ridiculous, and really rubs me the wrong way. On the upside, this is finally a fight Nora is in the right for, so that’s a nice change.

The Shadow Raiders, while all of this is going on, do get deployed to stop a transport they believe to be carrying Jimmy. Instead of finding Jimmy, they find a coffin holding Hendrix. They take him home and have a ceremony for him, but Gallo takes his death really hard. Nora points out that Gallo’s been through a lot, and it seems odd for him to take this event to heart, and Gallo tells her that everybody has a breaking point. For somebody who’s spent a lot of time being emotionally catered to by Gallo (despite Gallo’s claims that he’s not there to be her emotional support), Nora is pretty quick to be like, “okay, cool, bye.” Gallo is also pretty visibly upset by the whole ordeal; it’s understandable, but also so contradictory to this weird characterization of Gallo they’ve been trying to sell us on the past few episodes, where he’s not an emotional guy. (He is. He’s constantly emoting. I don’t know why they even bothered to try to tell us otherwise. It’s silly.) 

While Gallo’s wrangling his emotions and Jess is trying to figure out what to do now that she’s messed everything up by knowingly and intentionally messing everything up, Thea and Ian are interrogating the French arms dealer who was transporting Hendrix’s body. Ian, ever a Good Boy, wants to do the interrogation by the book, but Thea thinks he’s taking it to easily on the guy. She asks Ian if he ever goes off book, and in response we get a weird flashback where Ian convinces a fellow officer to, what, haze a young soldier? The guy clearly has disciplinary issues that according to the chit-chat we get aren’t getting better, so they make him crawl a mile back to camp. This, I guess, is supposed to show us that Ian can improvise, but he does it indirectly — through the other officer — and it’s a bizarre comparison that comes at a too-convenient time for the flashback to feel at all organic. It feels like a bad network note. “Uh, we’re not sure we buy Ian’s response here about being able to go off book — can you show us him doing this in the past?” 

Nora later figures out that Jess was the source of the leak, and confronts her about it. I don’t know if what Jess is doing is really that bonkers or if I just have trouble buying what the actress is trying to sell, but the argument is so frustrating to watch. Jess is categorically in the wrong. Period. End of story. She put her husband’s life in danger in a stupid way, after multiple people who know more and better than her on the subject tried to stop her. But like I said, the up side of this is Nora is finally sympathetic! Hurrah. Nora points out to Jess that if Nora tells the higher ups that Jess was the leak, the Shadow Raiders would definitely stay on the mission, but Jess could be prosecuted. (Unrelated sidenote: we’ve entirely dropped Nora’s addiction this episode. Apparently she was very quickly cured.)

Gallo goes to drown his sorrows at the bar, and Thea joins him, frustrated after Ian’s refusal to use alternative interrogation tactics got them nowhere. They talk and flirt, and then go have sex in a backroom of the bar — bit of a surprise, since I totally thought Thea was gay, but apparently she’s bi. Fine, cool, yay for bisexual representation on television. What’s questionable is Thea’s decision to sleep with two Shadow Raiders now… For a spook, she has a fairly appalling lack of discretion.

We then go straight into s’more interrogations with Thea and Ian, where Thea is pretty much beating the crap out of the French guy to get information while Ian watches. We get another flashback, to Nora confronting Ian after the soldier Ian made crawl back tried to commit suicide. She tells Ian that he was under a lot of pressure from his family, and that the additional force from Ian only made it worse. So now we know why we got this bland flashback; it’s why Ian favors doing things by the book. Because when he went off book, somebody got hurt. Sure, fine, whatever. But then he goes in to the interrogation and interrupts Thea, and talks to the arms dealer about why emotionally brought him to where he is today. It’s, like… heartwarming, I guess, but also a little ridiculous? Like, I appreciate trying to show us how good Ian is at his , and I super appreciate the show trying to say that sometimes human connection is actually the answer to problems, but I’m just not sure I buy an arms dealer working with an international syndicate that traffics American POWs being broken down by some memories of his family. In exchange for witness protection for him and his loved ones, the guy agrees to give them information.

He tells them about a former American soldier who would have info — Thea shows him a picture, and he confirms that it’s Davis Gondry. So alllll of this, shockingly, is interconnected. Now, though, Ian is directly involved, which makes it somewhat more likely that Nora and Gallo’s little coverup is going to be exposed.

We end with a party at the bar to honor Hendrix, where Gallo is hammered, and Jess shows up. She and Nora have a civil interaction, where Nora agrees not to tell what Jess did. Which seems crazy. But… okay. Drunk Gallo gets into a fight with Ian, because Gallo is SO EMOTIONAL and I have no idea why we ever pretended otherwise. Caught out fighting, Gallo gets grounded from flying and kicked out of the bar. Thea goes to comfort Gallo, and ends up taking him home, where he finds one of the dominoes in her drawer, cluing him into the fact that Thea — and the CIA — is somehow involved in this conspiracy.

TB-TV-Grade-C+Season 1, Episode 7 (S03E07)
Valor airs Mondays at 9PM on The CW

Read all of our reviews of Valor here.
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