A two-front storyline about an American Muslim P.O.W. on CW’s Valor was presented in the episode titled “About Face” that aired on December 4. How the husband and wife involved cope with the stresses of fake news reports alleging that the soldier could be tied to radical Islam was intermingled throughout the show.
Staff Sergeant Jimmy Kam (W. Tre Davis) is being held as a P.O.W. in Somalia. His fellow crewmate, also taken as a P.O.W., has died. Jimmy is now being held captive by Khalid Samatar (Jaiden Kaine), a local terrorist who blames the U.S. for his brother’s death in conjunction with a failed covert uranium deal.
Jimmy has a comfortable bed and a shower in Khalid’s hide-out and Khalid proceeds to mess with Jimmy’s mind. He wants Jimmy to do a video blaming America on behalf of Khalid. Jimmy is practicing as a Muslim in captivity and Khalid shows him a copy of a newspaper article with allegations that Jimmy has converted to radical Islam - as the screenshot above shows. Khalid tells Jimmy he will be forgotten and left behind by America.
Fortunately, Jimmy is shown to be a true hero – he doesn’t buckle under to the pressure and holds onto a family picture of him, his wife and his young son as a source of strength.
Khalid: So, you have read it now. You see what they say. You are not one of them. They say I'm like you. Your country has given up on you.
Jimmy: You're wrong. I don't... want your favors. I don't want this room. I'm never giving up on them. And I am never making your damn video.
Meanwhile, Jess Kam (Corbin Reid) is confronted by a couple of reporters who ask if Jimmy is Muslim and if he could have been recruited to radical causes. This catches Jess off guard. Jess doesn’t admit that Jimmy is a Muslim, she only says that he was born a Muslim and leaves it at that. Local news reports on television insinuate that Jimmy has converted to radical Islam. One reporter refers to him as a “so-called P.O.W.” in a news report seen by some of his friends on base. The reporter says Jimmy “may have ties to radical Islam” and asks, “So, has he been captured or did he desert?” One captain says, “Talk about fake news. I can’t watch this crap.” While Nora (Christina Ochoa) is visiting Jess, they hear a news reporter says the “public is clamoring for information” on Jimmy’s Muslim beliefs “following the death of his comrade.”
Congresswoman Porter, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the point person for D.C. in the Shadow Raiders’ search for the P.O.W.s, sends a communications specialist to help Jess. When Jess asks, "Why does it matter if Jimmy is Muslim? He's a hero. Can't we just say that?" Ms. Edwards tells her, “In order to beat these people you have to play their game.”
For some reason Jess balks at making a statement about how her husband didn't actively worship and deemphasizing the role of Islam in his life, even though it's true. She asks, "What if he was devout? Would it matter? ...It just sounds like I'm defending Jimmy, and he shouldn't need to be defended. He hasn't done anything wrong."
Well, Jess, it matters because he is being held by Muslim terrorists. While we all are aware there is plenty of fake news these days, it isn’t without precedent that a soldier could convert to a radical form of Islam and murder other soldiers. In 2009, Army Major Nidal Hasan did exactly that at Fort Hood.
Jess agrees to a press conference and rehearses the prepared script which says things she has confirmed are true, like, "My husband has not attended services at a mosque in over ten years" and "We decided we didn't want to raise our son, Max, in the Muslim faith." But when she starts to deliver her statement, she instead launches into full-throated support of him and other Muslims serving in the U.S. military based on her personal feeling that religion shouldn't matter, even though this will only further stoke the smear campaign against her husband.
Ms. Edwards: Good afternoon. It is my honor to introduce Jessica Kam, wife of Sergeant Jimmy Kam. Mrs. Kam, like all military spouses, is an unsung hero. And she has a few words she'd like to share with you.
Jess: Recently, my husband's loyalty has been questioned by some members of the press. They have labeled him a Muslim and a traitor to this... I'm sorry. Um, I'm sorry. Uh, these words have the best intentions, but this isn't the way to stand by Jimmy. You want to know who my husband is, I will tell you. He's Muslim. He is Muslim, and he is a proud soldier. Like thousands of other soldiers that serve alongside him every. He is a loving husband and a caring father. And I know that you will bring him home.
Also in this episode, Sergeant Jack “Smitty” Smith (Justice Leak) sexually assaults one of the few female soldiers on base. Sergeant Zoe Cho (Chelle Ramos), a lesbian, is under verbal assault from Smitty for not being subservient enough to him. After refusing to fetch him a soda, he corners her in a snack room and attempts to rape her. She fights him off and escapes. She's hesitant to tell anyone but finally does. She has the support of her crew and the Colonel, too. Colonel Haskins transfers Smitty to another base while the process works for Cho.
At the end of the episode, an 800 number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline was shown onscreen.
This episode could have really gone off the rails and betrayed soldiers as Neanderthals but chose not to go that way. Ending with a public service announcement was a nice touch, too.