VALOR Review: “Costs of War”


We’ve reached the end of Valor for the season, it seems, and no word on whether or not it’s renewed or canceled. On the up side, we’ve wrapped up the majority of the loose ends (although there’s definitely some additional conspiracy planted toward the end they can grab onto if they get renewed) so it’s a (relatively) satisfying conclusion if this is the end; also, though, I really kind of don’t want to watch anymore of this show. This episode more than others at points both looks and feels like a bad soap, and I’m just not into it.

We pick up where we left off last episode, with Ian and Thea rushing to stop the bomb that Olivia has snuck into the convention Magnus is speaking at as revenge slash a statement against the way the US government ends up killing a ton of people in the Middle East. Which, like, fair, but I’m really confused about the logic from this person we’ve presented as being pretty dang smart going, “I’m very upset and personally touched by the collateral damage of war so I’m going to detonate a dirty bomb and kill a city full of innocent people slowly and painfully.” Like, lady. C’mon. What?

Ian corners Olivia in an alleyway to try to convince her not to detonate the bomb while Thea works with her agents to diffuse it. Ian does a piss poor of convincing her of anything, honestly — he should definitely not have a future as a hostage negotiator or, like, talking suicidal people off of rooftops because he is the opposite of persuasive. Olivia presses the button, but Thea’s people have managed to diffuse the bomb just in time, so at least this problem is solved.

Nora, Gallo, and Jimmy make their way out of the bunker. On their way to the helo, a CIA agent on the mission with them tries to kill them, raising the stakes and convincing Nora and Gallo not to come clean about the parts of the mission they’re still lying about.

Jimmy gets home to his family and struggles to readjust, suffering from what I assume is PTSD. This is obviously a hugely important issue to cover and discuss in a show about soldiers, but nothing looks more like a bad soap than the shots in the Kams’ kitchen where Jimmy’s breathing heavily, trying to pull himself together after his son startled him, and Jess is lingering over his shoulder looking appalled — I just can’t get past how generic verging on bad this show is aesthetically. I also am a little concerned and confused that they seem to immediately let Jimmy go home and don’t seem to give his wife or his kids any sort of chat about what to expect and how to handle it — it seems like he’d be stuck in briefings if not a hospital for more than a minute after coming back, if not for his wellbeing, then for any information he might have gleaned. If the point was that we don’t do enough for soldiers coming home with PTSD, it’s true and it’s legit, but it’s not a point they actually try to make so it just feels a liiiiittle weird.

While Jimmy readjusts, Nora, Gallo, Haskins, and Thea try to figure out what went wrong with the CIA operative who tried to kill them. Thea assures them that Magnus has been informed and that he’s on it.

We get a few personal beats in here. First is Nora and Gallo, with Gallo being persistent about wanting to actually give their relationship a shot and saying that he’s willing to leave the Shadow Raiders so they’re not in the same chain of command to do it; Nora doesn’t really answer. Gallo apologizes to Jimmy for not heeding Jimmy’s bad feeling the day of the mission that got Jimmy captured. Ian goes to Nora asking to give them a second chance, and Nora tells him that they need time a part and have real problems — she says time alone will do them both good.

The Shadow Raiders are called back in to meet with Thea and Magnus where Magnus tries to tell them that Richard, aka Matador, paid the CIA operative to try and kill Gallo and Nora, which instantly makes Magnus suspect, because Nora and Gallo know Richard is dead, ‘cause they killed him. Thus Richard can’t be Matador, and Magnus is lying to them… shocker. He’s been shady as all hell from the word go, so it’s nice for somebody to suddenly note it.

Nora and Gallo go to Haskins with this information, and Haskins goes to Thea. Thea meets with Magnus and under the guise of caring for him and respecting him and raises her concerns to him — Magnus admits that he’s the one who’s basically behind everything. He was brokering the deals for uranium with the intent to sell them to a white nationalist group who would use the dirty bombs against radical Islamic strongholds. Thea’s obviously wearing a wire, though, and so Magnus goes down. The weirdest part of all of this is that this whole thing falls apart because Magnus either didn’t realize Richard was dead or knew he was dead and so wanted to use him as a scapegoat, which means it didn’t occur to him that Nora and Gallo might know something about that even though they were seemingly the last people he was seen with, right? Magnus, who’s supposed to be this brilliant CIA higher up who is apparently smart and subtle enough to work with a white nationalist group during actual operations for the US government and hide it wasn’t able to take the intuitive leap from “Richard was with Nora and Gallo and then they came back and are clearly hiding somebody and Richard is dead so… maybe they know something.”

He also tells Thea this quite willingly after she insists they don’t have time to go somewhere more secure, which is a bit stupid. Thea also points out that there’s somebody above Magnus involved in this, so there’s a thread to pick up if we come back next season.

Ian’s mother, the congresswoman, also has some connection to Magnus and so presumably this whole operation. At the end of the episode she burns a ~top secret~ file, so there’s another thread.

In order to get to all of this, though, Nora and Gallo had to come clean to Haskins and so are in hot water. Thea saves them by deciding along with Haskins that they are discharged from the Shadow Raiders, but the charges are dropped if they agree to continue getting to the bottom of the Magnus situation by flying for a CIA special activities unit under Thea’s command. This also means that they can date each other because they won’t be in the army anymore. Gallo and Nora agree to take the deal but plan to ultimately get back into the army. Nora turns Gallo down when he presses the relationship thing again (honestly, dude? So much traumatic stuff just went down, and she literally just broke up with her serious long term boyfriend, can you find your chill?) and says she needs time alone, thereby preserving a potential love triangle between her, Gallo, and Ian, since she said “I need time alone” and they both seemed to read that as “maybe later.”

As far as endings go, this was a decent one, but again — can’t say I’m at all hoping for a season two.

TB-TV-Grade-CSeason 1, Episode 13 (S01E13)
Valor airs Saturdays at 9PM on The CW

Read all of our reviews of Valor here.
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