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‘Valor’ is Filled with Melodrama
October 9, 2017  | By David Hinckley
 

The season of the soldier marches on, with the CW’s new Valor offering yet another angle on American fighting forces vs. sneering radical terrorists.

Valor, which premieres at 9 p.m. ET Monday, focuses on a Special Ops unit that finds itself torn apart by an almost indescribably complicated mission in Somalia.

And if you think that mission is complicated, wait ‘til you get into the love triangle, or is it a quadrangle, further enmeshing several of our principal characters.

The story begins simply enough, with our Special Ops team ambushed as their helicopter touches down in the Somalian mountains.

Someone is hit, and as the team tries to fly away, a rocket-powered grenade heads toward the chopper.

We find this out because one of the pilots, Warrant Officer Nora Madani (Christine Ochoa, top), is suffering several months later from an apparently recurring nightmare. When she wakes up, she lunges for a bottle of pills.

She then goes into the kitchen and finds her boyfriend, Ian Porter (Charlie Barnett, left), who notes this is her first day returning to her unit after that intense experience. She tells him she’s fine. No one – not Ian, not Nora, not we viewers – believe her.

We spend the first episode learning more about what happened that night, one cryptic and non-linear clue at a time.

It turns out Madani and her boss, Captain Leland Gallo (Matt Barr, top), survived the ambush, which turned out to be an ordeal, and made it back.

The others in their unit are somewhere else, which is frustrating most of all to Jess Kam (Corbin Reid), wife of the missing Jimmy Kam (W. Tré Davis). Jess can get no information on where he might be, if anywhere.

We get a few preliminary answers as the episode moves on, at the price of also getting more questions. At least one mystery man becomes a significant factor, and another government agency becomes involved, which fans of international mystery thrillers know is never a good sign.

In this case, those other agencies are under a woman named Thea (Melissa Roxburgh), who seems to take more than a professional interest in some aspects of the case.

The romance angle – okay, it’s more like a sex angle – seems a little too upfront at times in Valor. But then, we need to remember there was a whole lot of that in Homeland, the contemporary prototype for all these terrorist-driven thrillers.

It’s difficult to say after the first episode whether Valor will become gripping. On the hopeful side, all the elements are there, including a couple of apparent heroes who have serious flaws and a supporting cast we already care about.

What we will need at some point is a clear idea of exactly who fits where in the lineup and what direction the story might be taking us. Suspense is fine. Bewilderment, a little less so.

Like this fall’s other soldier shows, Valor suggests war leaves damages that ripple out far beyond the original stone. It also suggests there’s a certain bad-boy cool to someone like Leland Gallo, and that “hero” can be a relative term.

If Valor can keep its soapy side in proportion to its action-adventure side, it could earn a salute.

 
 
 
 
 
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