VALOR Review: “Oscar Mike”

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We’re finally reaching the climax of a season of roundabout and subterfuge on Valor. I don’t find the world on Valor to be terribly well rendered, however, so even though it’s just, y’know, normal modern day America, I don’t feel a whole lot of suspense, even when it’s like, “oh gosh, we need to stop this person before they blow up a convention center full of people.” I don’t know. I’m just not terribly invested in anything happening on this show despite tuning in week after week.

Nora, Gallo, Cho, Coogan, and the rest of the team land in Somalia, ready to rescue Jimmy and ideally capture Khalid. Since Nora and Gallo slept together last episode before deploying, they have the most ill-timed “what are we doing” conversation I have ever seen on television. They literally take off, and Gallo switches to their private radio channel to point out that they basically don’t have time to discuss it right now so it’s all good, right? Super strange. Also super strange that either of them would think or imply that that was a one night stand and will never happen again, since this whole season has basically been leading up to them finally banging. Whatever.

Coogan calls them out for chattering on their private channel and there’s some charming banter between everybody. Honestly, it’s the best part of the episode — this fifteen second back and forth between the soldiers before they land. Unfortunately, the helo gets shot down. Everybody, mostly, is fine — Cho gets injured, but not fatally or incredibly badly, and they manage to carry her inside of the bunker Khalid is hiding in. Jimmy figures out how to jimmy (you’re welcome) the pole he’s chained to out of its fixture on the wall and so he’s also freely (relatively) roaming through the bunker trying to meet up with his saviors.

There’s some shooting, and a grenade, and Gallo and Nora get cut off from most of the other soldiers. They’re left to wait for the second unit to come in and extract them while Nora and Gallo carry on searching for Jimmy. In doing, they come up against another of Khalid’s men who has a shot on Nora, but Gallo jumps in front of her and takes a round to the shoulder. Nora basically tells him he’s an idiot and she had a shot too if he hadn’t gotten in the way, and he tells her that he obviously did it because it was her. She says that clearly their ~special~ relationship is a problem, work-wise, and Gallo takes another extremely inopportune moment to discuss with Nora whether they have a chance of actually being together. GUYS, YOU’RE IN A BUNKER TRYING TO SAVE YOUR FRIEND AND FELLOW SOLDIER WHO HAS BEEN IN CAPTIVITY FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS. YOUR LIVES ARE LITERALLY IN DANGER, NOT TO MENTION THE LIVES OF SOMEBODY YOU’VE SPENT THIS WHOLE SERIES TRYING TO SAVE. Can you maybe save the letterman jacket exchange for literally any other time?

I get it, it’s a character drama more than a war show, but really? They sometimes go out of their way to make everybody on it seem wildly incompetent despite being the best of the best, supposedly. I also review SEAL Team, and while I definitely favor character drama and would rather any show about anything focus on that, what SEAL Team gets that Valor can’t get a hold of is that in order for any of this to work — at least in my clearly very humble opinion — if you’re telling me that these special ops folks are the best there is… they need to appear competent. The personal stuff is important, as far as I’m concerned, and the more interesting thing to watch, but if you’re going to spend half the show on these missions, I need to not consistently feel like everybody is kind of a rash idiot who can’t do their . Anyway.

They rescue Jimmy. Jimmy beats Khalid to death, which seems like it should be a bigger issue to Gallo and Nora since they weren’t supposed to kill him. But they arm Jimmy and get ready to head out.

Back in the US, Ian and Thea are dealing with the dirty bomb heading to the convention center issue. Despite their warnings, Magnus has decided to keep the convention and just up security, which really wigs Ian out. Eventually, a false lead takes them to the real lead on the dirty bomb, and it’s Olivia — the translator he was sort of dating. We see through flashbacks that after Olivia’s translator was killed in Somalia, she agreed to work with Khalid to take down Magnus, who betrayed Khalid. Magnus was the initiator of the dominos, and got Khalid to work with him in exchange for Khalid’s brother — which he obviously did not follow through on. She also feels like the US’s intervention hasn’t been helpful, and so in addition to revenge for somebody she clearly cares about, there’s some political slash self-righteousness motivating her. If I actually cared about anything on this show, this would’ve been a good twist, I guess.

Olivia gets into the convention center with the materials for the dirty bomb. Thea and Ian are hot on her trail, but we end this episode on a cliffhanger as to whether or not they’ll stop her. I guess there’s also a bit of a cliffhanger in that Nora, Gallo, and Jimmy have to find their way out of the bunker and to the Bravo team that will be coming in to get them all out without getting shot first. It’s all very high stakes in theory, and I’m not sure what the disconnect is that makes me feel like none of it really matters. Everything in Valor feels sort of half done. Characters that could be interesting but somehow fall a little flat. A world that should be high stakes and exciting but still doesn’t quite merit investment. I don’t know. I was super interested in a CW military show, since those are two things that don’t really seem to mix, but the reality seems to be that, uh… yeah. These two things don’t really seem to mix.

TB-TV-Grade-CSeason 1, Episode 12 (S01E12)
Valor airs Saturdays at 9PM on The CW

Read all of our reviews of Valor here.
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