The Oct. 9 series premiere of ‘Valor’ was full of crazy twists and one HOT makeout session. HollywoodLife.com talked EXCLUSIVELY with creator Kyle Jarrow about what’s ahead for Nora and Gallo as the season moves forward.
The Valor premiere was full of so many surprises. The new CW drama focuses on female soldier named Nora (Christina Ochoa) living in a man’s world. When Nora is caught in the middle of a botched mission on the job, she finds herself keeping more secrets than she anticipated. In addition to dealing with the secrets she’s trying to keep hidden from her superiors about what really happened, she also had a steamy makeout session with one of her co-workers! Creator Kyle Jarrow breaks down everything about the premiere and teases what’s ahead!
Nora and Gallo kiss in the premiere. How did you decide that this would happen in the first episode. You could have held out for seasons. Plus, where do they go from here?
Kyle Jarrow: That happens but then they really step back from it. In episode two, they’re like, “Wow, we can’t let that happen again.” Then we kind of spend the season… it’s like once you let the cat of the bag a little bit, I think it makes it harder to put it back in. So that kind of ends up being what they’re struggling with a little bit. We talked a lot about it. Should it happen in the first episode or not? And what we kind of landed on and hopefully you’ll agree with us, is that it’s 2017. They’re two attractive, young people. The reality is that something probably would happen. Maybe not like jumping in bed together, but we wanted this to feel realistic. The lines get blurry and get crossed. Let’s let that happen and see what the fallout is. A lot of the first season will be about that.
Nora and Gallo are Special Ops partners, and their partnership is so pivotal. Tell me little bit about casting Matt and Christina and making sure they had that right chemistry.
Kyle Jarrow: Actually, Matt was cast first. He has a long relationship with The CW, and they had been really looking to do a project with him. He read the script, and he expressed a lot of interest, so we met with him and were so excited about his take on the character. Then we had Christina when we knew she was the Nora that we wanted. We brought her in to meet with Matt, and then they did a chemistry read. We just felt the chemistry between them. Honestly, from moment one, they just got along so well and just had that chemistry. One thing I will say is that in this show I think it’s important that it’s a complicated chemistry. It’s two people that have to work together in these incredibly dangerous situations, so they need to be able to be professional. It can’t be super flirty because that’s simply not the reality of what it would be. On the other hand, you need to be able to feel that there is this deep attraction that is both respect and also sexual attraction and all these other things. That’s a complicated note to hit, and I think the two of them really found that. They’ve sort of helped us define what that is. As we’ve written future episodes, we’ve based that relationship on the relationship that they’ve created in the pilot.
Nora and Gallo just got back from this botched mission in Somalia and there are a lot of things they don’t understand. There is some type of coverup happening, and there are a lot of things they don’t know and secrets that they’re hiding. Will this mystery about what really happened be drawn out over the course of the season?
Kyle Jarrow: Definitely the heartbeat of the first season is going to be them getting to the bottom of what was actually going on over there and trying to peel back the layers of that mystery together. Obviously, there are lots of things that will be going on. They’re trying to save the two guys who got captured, and they’re trying to get to the bottom of what was really going on. Every episode we will get another clue in figuring out what’s going on. The more they learn and the deeper they get, the more they’re drawn together and that has been a fun thing to explore in the writing and hopefully in the viewing, too.
Nora is definitely struggling with PTSD one month after the mission in Somalia. Are we going to continue to see her deal with that?
Kyle Jarrow: Yes, absolutely. I think one of the things we really want to explore is not only PTSD, but also something people who are not soldiers can relate to, which is the psychological impact of keeping a secret and lying to people because you need to protect yourself. We’re definitely going to explore the toll that takes on Nora and how she works though that. I don’t think this is revealing too much, but Gallo, this character who acts like he’s way more chill with everything, we’re going to see that he’s actually maybe struggling with some stuff, too. He’s just not able to admit it as easily.
There were some instances in the pilot where Nora was taking painkillers. Is this something she’s going to struggle with this season?
Kyle Jarrow: It is definitely one of the arcs that we’re going to explore with her in this first season. She will teeter on the edge of getting addicted. And it is a real issue. Obviously in America, we all see the news of the opioid epidemic, but in the military, a lot of people are injured and a lot of them are being prescribed painkillers. A lot of times those painkillers become a crutch for more than just the pain. There is a lot of reality to that, and it feels like something really worth exploring. She’s definitely going to be struggling with that and working through that. I think one of the things I feel excited to do with this series is to show a woman who is so kickass — she is with the best of the best and operating at the highest levels — and yet like anybody, she’s also turning to crutches that help her perform at that level. I think seeing how she realizes how far is too far is really important story to tell.
Nora’s in a relationship with Porter at the moment, but they’ve hit a rough patch. What can you tease about their relationship going forward?
Kyle Jarrow: This is a couple who really loves each other, but there’s now secrets which is something they’ve never had before. She has not told him the truth of what happened in Somalia. In any relationship, when you start keeping secrets, it puts a strain. So Porter is starting to get the sense that she’s keeping something from him but he doesn’t know what. The weight of that on their relationship and how they navigate that is totally something were going to explore this season. To me, what I think will be fun to explore is a triangle where Nora really does love Ian. She is really drawn to Gallo, but she can’t be with Gallo because they are in the same chain of command, which means that a relationship would be totally not allowed. What is it like to be in a triangle like that where you are honestly drawn to two people in very different ways, but one of them is not allowed? In a weird way, the fact that they’re not allowed makes them even more attractive. That’s psychology, right? The other thing that’s going to happen with Porter is that he’s going to start to see that he has a really ambitious side. He’s an intel officer, so he’s on the intelligence side of things of figuring out the mystery of where these prisoners are being held. We’re really going to see his ambition start to flash up a bit as he starts to get some recognition for the good work that he’s doing. That will be another thing that kind of features into their relationship. What happens to a relationship when the people in it change?
Finding the right Nora was essential because she anchors the entire series. What stood out about Christina that made her the perfect Nora?
Kyle Jarrow: First of all, it was very hard to cast, and Christina is truly a unicorn. We feel so lucky to have gotten her. We really needed somebody who could project this strength that would make her believable as a soldier. It’s very difficult to become Special Ops. Somebody who believably seems like they could have made it through that training regiment that was important, but we also needed someone who had that charisma of, frankly, a TV star. Finding somebody who can check both boxes was really tough. The other thing we wanted was someone who felt really smart. Someone who had that great intelligence behind her eyes, and Christina has all those things. She’s absolutely beautiful and has that TV star charisma. She’s also totally strong and someone who actually can do the physical stuff that Special Ops demands. She’s actually a member of Mensa. She’s super smart. She was a marine biology graduate student before she became an actor. She just checked all those boxes. To be honest, there’s just not a lot of people who do check all those boxes. We got really lucky with her.
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