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Special Ops Lioness Episode 1 Recap: “Sacrificial Soldiers”

Paramount’s got Taylor Sheridan’s scribbling a heart-stopping drama, “Special Ops: Lioness.” It’s all about a CIA agent Joe, rocked by Zoe Saldana, part of this hush-hush gig, “Lioness.” Episode one’s all about the Lioness gang getting cozy as they dive into a fresh hustle in Kuwait. We also meet Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira), a newbie who hops on with Marine’s afterlife and serves her a lemon. She’s crazy good at sports, and spy guru Joe spots her for the Lioness Program.

What Happened In Special Ops Lioness Episode 1?

Special Ops Lioness Episode 1 Recap
Source: Special Ops Lioness, Paramount+

The first episode kicks off with Joe running a mission in Syria as part of the CIA’s Lioness operation. She’s got her sights on some big shot suspected of hanging with ISIL and other bad guys. But then, the mission goes south when her plant, a young chick, gets her cover blown thanks to her cross tattoo. Stuff goes haywire, and she’s gotta lie low.

Joe rallies her gang for a rescue gig, but soon it hits her – the odds of getting her plant out safely are super slim. So, she rings up a drone hit, wiping out the ISIL HQ and, sadly, her asset. Meanwhile, Cruz Manuelos is making burgers and shacking up with her loser boyfriend. After an argument gets ugly, Cruz socks him one and hightails it out there. With her ex snapping at her heels, she dives into a Marine sign-up spot, where a Marine steps up to help. After that, Cruz decides to join the Marines and nails their rock-hard test.

Seems Cruz lost her mom in high school and never met her dad, so she dropped out and hit the pole. But now, with her test scores, she’s got a bright future as a Marine. Back home in the US, Joe has to face the music after her mission flops. Her bosses, Byron and Kaitlyn, are ticked off about her calling in that drone hit. But Joe holds her own, saying her asset’s cover was blown and she could’ve ended up a bad rap for the CIA if she’d been nabbed and squeezed for info by ISIL.

Later, she drops by her family, leading to a bit of an awkward dinner because of her surprise visit. Even though there’s awkwardness between Joe and her kid, her main man, Neil, stands by her. Now Joe needs a new teammate for her gang that’s hunting down big-time targets for the CIA. She bumps into Cruz, who’s been itching for a chance to strut her stuff. After a bumpy beginning, Joe ropes Cruz into the team for the next mission.

She spills the plan to Cruz – they’ll plant assets near the women in the families of big-time targets to bust ’em wide open. Cruz’s job will be to pal around with Aaliyah Amrohi (Stephanie Nur), the daughter of a loaded Iraqi businessman with terrorist ties. Cruz also meets the rest of Joe’s crew – Bobby (Jill Wagner), Tucker, Randy, Tex, and Two Cups. So, just like that, Cruz is plunged headfirst into the crazy world of spying.

What Happens Between Cruz and Aaliyah?

Special Ops Lioness Episode 1 Recap
Source: Special Ops Lioness, Paramount+

The finale sees Cruz being snagged by Joe to buddy up with Aaliyah, the daughter of a dude they think is a terrorist. Joe gives Cruz the lowdown on Aaliyah, a daddy’s girl who’s living large in Kuwait. Joe hopes that by sticking Cruz close to Aaliyah, she’ll get the dirt on Aaliyah’s pops and figure out how to snuff him out.

Even though Cruz says she’s game to go with it, she’s clueless about the can of worms she’s about to open. We get our first peek at Cruz’s rookie status when she parties a tad too hard with her new gang and has to jump into action with a hangover. Joe leads Cruz to a mall where Aaliyah’s been seen. She tells Cruz to play up her Syrian roots to connect with Aaliyah but keeps Aaliyah’s identity hush-hush. Joe sends Cruz in blind, thinking any info could screw up the mission.

At first, Cruz is floundering, being tossed into field work without much help. But she shows she’s got the chops when she deals with Aaliyah like a pro. Cruz hooks Aaliyah in with some simple chitchat, sparking Aaliyah’s interest. The curtain falls with Aaliyah and Cruz heading out of the mall together, hinting that Cruz has aced the first step of her new mission.

But Cruz is blind to the fact that she’s just a pawn in Joe’s game. Joe keeps her assets at arm’s length, underscored when she says it’s Cruz’s job to watch her own back if her cover gets blown. And don’t forget, Joe’s last asset kicked the bucket, seemingly replaced by Cruz. So, Cruz will have to face the harsh reality of her new gig soon, and the vibe between her and Joe could flip on a dime once she gets wind of Joe’s previous screw-up.

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