'Special Ops: Lioness' Finally Answered Its Biggest Questions

'Special Ops: Lioness' Finally Answered Its Biggest Questions

Boy, did Special Ops: Lioness fans receive A LOT of information last episode. You'd think a spa day would be chill, but creator Taylor Sheridan made sure that it was jam-packed with perilous updates. The wedding where everyone is supposed to die by way of a US drone strike is now happening in Majorca instead of Kuwait. Plus, Cruz may or may not be in love with her mark. Uh-oh. Also, Morgan Freeman finally showed up as the Secretary of State—and said a bunch of badass stuff, as if we'd expect nothing less from the legendary actor. He took over the mission, gave a sarcastic "good luck," and got his ass out of there.

Leaving the team at CIA headquarters—fully equipped with the big, blinking world map—Joe (Zoe Saldaña), Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman), and Byron Westfield (Michael Kelly) are all losing their minds. "Look, we can cancel the mission but that Marine is going to Majorca whether we like it or not," Joe explains. "She is in, and there are only two ways out: mission success or mission failure." The current mission: Aaliyah takes Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) to New York City to drink champagne and shop for wedding dresses. She asks her if she "thought about this morning?" You know, when they kissed. "It's all I think about," Aaliyah says. I would like to take credit for eyeing this, but it was so telegraphed at the end of Episode Five that it was impossible to think anything else would happen.

nicole kidman as kaitlyn meade and michael kelly as byron westfield in special ops lioness, episode 7, season 1, streaming on paramount, 2023 photo credit luke varleyparamount
"Look, we can cancel the mission but that Marine is going to Majorca whether we like it or not," Joe says.Luke Varley/Paramount+ - Paramount

The new couple then heads to a fancy hotel where they can hook up in secret. Meanwhile, CIA officer Kyle listens from another room. He calls Joe and spoils their fun. "These two are a couple," he says. How does he know? "Because I've been listening to them fuck for the last three hours," he says. Dang! Maybe being a Lioness isn't that bad after all. Sure, you render your life collateral damage to CIA ops, but you also get to have beach parties, spa days, and three-hour-long sex vacations.

When Aaliyah falls asleep, Cruz sneaks away and cries in the bathroom. She texts Joe, who immediately takes to the sky—in a helicopter—to get her agent out of there. Aaliyah wakes up and Cruz tells her that she "needs to process this." Surprisingly, Aaliyah actually lets her leave. Cruz makes her way to Kyle's room, but it doesn't feel safe just tet. The vibes are off. If Kyle revealed that he's evil right now, I wouldn't bat an eye. Instead, Joe arrives and Kyle leaves to grab a drink at the bar downstairs.

"I'm not trained for this," Cruz tells Joe. "I think I'm in love with her." Joe says that she understands, but tries to remind her that she has a noble purpose with the Lioness program. "Don't for a second feel that she is in love with you," Joe warns. She may be the first person to show her real affection, but she's the mark. Joe then drops a crazy truth bomb to try and snap Cruz back to the reality of the situation. Aaliyah's father is apparently "responsible for every conflict in the Middle East since 9/11." Holy shit. That's much scarier than the intel that they received last episode. Now, he's the kingpin of crime for the entire Middle East?! Who is this guy?

"Neutralizing this man is the equivalent of blowing up the only bank accessible to terrorists," Joe continues. "They lose the ability to borrow money, move it, and launder it. He's the biggest target we've uncovered since Bin Laden." OK, this is crazy. When it was just a small-time terrorist operation? Ut made sense. Now, the Lioness program is responsible for killing the next Bin Laden? The idea that this rests solely on Cruz's shoulders is insane.

So, Cruz goes back to Aaliyah's room to briefly turn her audio transmitter off. She's decided to try and get Aaliyah to cancel the wedding, but Aaliyah reveals that she'll be killed if she runs away. "There will be 500 people at the wedding," Aaliyah says, signaling the potential death count to the audience. "But no friends, unless you come." Cruz reluctantly agrees and then leaves the hotel room. At the debrief, Kaitlyn tells Cruz that "the lines of what is real always get blurred with someone who has no training." Cruz says that she's can't sleep next to Aaliyah knowing that she's going to kill her father. Joe doesn't care. "Wheels up at 15:00," she says.

hannah love lanier as kate in special ops lioness, episode 7, season 1, streaming on paramount, 2023 photo credit greg lewisparamount
Be there for your daughter, Joe!Greg Lewis/Paramount+ - Paramount

Later, Joe goes home to see her daughter. Kate's been released from the hospital, but Joe still won't be able to play the caregiver role that her daughter desperately craves. Plus, I couldn't imagine not knowing anything more about my mom's dangerous mission—the one that might get her killed. Their other daughter starts crying, just because everyone else is. "I can't fucking do this anymore," Joe tells her husband Neil (Dave Annable). Good! Maybe take my weekly advice and do any other job. Your husband is a surgeon. This family is certainly not scrounging.

As Kaitlyn prepares to leave, her mysterious, money-minded husband fills us in on why their target is supplying every terrorist organization in the Middle East with cash. He begins his monologue, which is said in complete monotone, as if he was outlining it for the hundredth time. I can tell I've hated him this whole series, because he gives I see you're new to this Reddit message board with every word uttered. "The leaders we placed in power need us to be the enemy of their people," he explains, "or the people will start asking why 0.6% of the population has an income over $1 million and 41% make less than $10,000. Unrest in the region protects those in power, and we need them to stay in power."

He goes on to state his belief that such unrest can sometimes lead to terrorist attacks such as 9/11, but that certain tragedies are sacrifices that we can make because the Middle East "takes a beating" when they act out. This mission, however, will remove "the financial center of that unrest," and the unknown is worse than the control they believe they have over the region. Oh, and he also throws in that he doesn't care about climate change—because he thinks that we're all going to blow ourselves up in a nuclear war anyway. OK, Mr. Money! I've heard enough from you today. Kaitlyn doesn't care for his thoughts, either. The op is on.

It's weird that it took seven episodes to make me feel like I understood who their target was. Especially since I still have questions. If that's the truth behind this whole thing, then why does the US government want him killed? Is he planning another big terrorist attack on the US and needs to be suppressed beforehand, or is he just causing too much unrest? Maybe I'm supposed to be as clueless about this whole mission as our main characters—just doing what I'm told, no questions asked. On the plane, Joe makes Cruz watch a supercut of terroristic actions in the Middle East... as a sort of mental fuel to remind her why she accepted this mission? Messed up! We'll see how it all goes down next week in the season finale.

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