Special Ops: Lioness (2023) Series: Female Spies Hunt & Kill

Special Ops: Lioness is a spy series semi-inspired by the real-life USA Military program. The lioness or the female spies dominate in this current tale created by Taylor Sheridan.

In this tale, the secretive lioness team from the USA has increasingly become proactive. They are actively being deployed by the US Government agencies. These Lionesses hunt and kill the terrorists and their (financial and other) backers. In the post-9/11 era, their hit list has been created and approved by their political leaders in power.


Synopsis (official summary) of this 2023 Spy Thriller series

Inspired by a US Military program, Special Ops Lioness follows agents Joe (Zoe Saldana), Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman), and Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) as they embark on a dangerous undercover mission to stop the next 9/11.

In this series, Joe attempts to balance her personal and professional life as the tip of the CIA’s spear in the war on terror. The Lioness Program enlists Cruz to operate undercover alongside Joe among the power brokers of State terrorism.


Spoilers Free review of the Special Ops: Lioness (S1/2023) series

Creator Taylor Sheridon & this spy show

We have to admire the prolific work of the creator Taylor Sheridan. As he continues to deliver one hit show after another, viz., 1883, 1923, Yellowstone, Mayor of Kingstown, etc. Each of these series has its unique storyline. And we have all of the above-mentioned shows in our Focus Magazine.

In fact, a real Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program has semi-inspired this contemporary spy series.

So, in this tale, CIA Supervisor Kailyn (Nicole Kidman), CIA Team Leader Joe (Zoe Saldaña), CIA rookie Agent Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) and CIA Soldier Bobby (Jill Wagner) are part of Team Lioness. Thus, they are part of an elite spy team of fearless women. Besides, their special operation is more like a version of mission-impossible spy assignments.

So, what is the storyline?

US spy agencies have assigned these brave females along with their gutsy male colleagues to infiltrate a (not fully confirmed) terrorist financial network. Moreover, they have also asked them to go undercover to obtain their vital information and neutralize the threats. So, they do so by carrying out the state-backed assassination of the name(s) mentioned in the hit list approved by the United States government.

Here is the quote and a link to the additional information on the Lioness.

While the real-world Lioness missions expanded beyond searching women to running medical clinics, distributing medicine and humanitarian aid, and meeting in Afghan homes, the women of “Special Ops: Lioness” became covert spies, infiltrators and potentially assassins attached to the CIA.

U.S. Military’s Lioness Program | Military.com

Geo-politics of Middle-East & the Politics of Oil

This fictional show also honestly talks about the need to keep the known regime in its place and back the rogue elements too. As it keeps the supply chain of oil intact. It seems that the Lioness are carrying out the special operations in the name of the national interests. On the other hand, one could argue that the United States (and other powerful nations) as well as their (Western Nations) desire to control the precious source of energy. As these Middle Eastern nations are the biggest exporters of the ‘oil’ energy in the world.

Thereby, its spy tale mentions a complex set of geo-political issues in this region. Furthermore, one could notice that the people of this region have a perceived aversion to the Western nations. Possibly because they blame the West for double-speak and double standard. Consequently, some of these Middle Eastern nations have also become active suppliers of footsoldiers for terrorist organizations.

Its action sequences look realistic but…

No doubt, its story touches upon the geopolitical and economic realities of the contemporary world. In addition, its antagonist trace their roots to the Middle East.

However, most of the people (directly or indirectly) involved in the said assassination looked uneasy. They seemed unhappy with the choices that they had made in this regard. Killing people takes an emotional and mental toll on these Lionesses too. And no wonder, some of them snap and react badly. And most likely, these are the early signs of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) disorder.

A note of warning, this spy show packs nudity and violence, perhaps, to keep its viewers engaged. Besides, we have learnt that its show creators hired real-life military advisors to help in producing a more authentic execution. So the action scenes involve – gun handling, house clearing, positioning, squad-based activity, etc. They all looked realistic.

These armed forces professionals have given credence to this fast-paced action drama. However, somehow it did not make us feel emphatic, as it lacked emotional depth.

Has an impressive lineup of female actors

On the other hand, it is led by impressive female actors – Nicole Kidman, Zoe Saldana, Laysla De Oliveira, and Stephanie Nur. All the cast members have done a wonderful job in this thrilling show about Lionesses. We also liked its main title soundtrack. All in all, it is a good spy show to watch, at least once.


Special Ops Lioness (2023) Series:- ratings

FM’s rating3.95/5
IMDb rating as of the date7.70/10
Rotten Tomatoes ratings as of the date53% Tomatometer & 80% Audience Score
Critics Consensus / Rotten TomatoesZoe Saldaña provides the energy of a Lioness, but these Special Ops are largely derivative and unconvincing.
FM, IMDb & Rotten Tomatoes ratings – Special Ops: Lioness (2023).

Spoiler Alert – episodes, ending & season two explained

Let us peek into the eight episodes of the Special Ops Lioness series

Please note, that we are not sharing the entire story of this spy series, instead, we shall offer you all an outline of its story.

1st Episode: Sacrificial Soldiers

Things go awry for CIA officer – Joe (Zoe Saldana) and her team. Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) tries to escape a dangerous situation. Things go awry for Joe and her team during a mission out in the field (somewhere in Middle-East Asia); Joe is left devastated; upon her return home, Joe’s family life presents its own challenges; Cruz tries to escape a dangerous situation; Joe must choose an agent.

2nd Episode: The Beating

Joe continues her training with Cruz (her new agent – a Lioness); her (third-degree) methods are questionable; Cruz starts to build a relationship with Aaliyah (Stephanie Nur); Kate (Joe’s teenage daughter – Hannah Love Lanier) gets into a fight during her soccer game; Neil (Jo’s husband – Dave Annable) has to deliver difficult news to a patient.

3rd Episode: Bruise Like a Fist

Cruz spends time with Aaliyah (the CIA’s target). Joe keeps Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman) informed. Kyle (Joe’s colleague – Thad Luckinbill) comes to Joe desperate for help. Cruz is invited to spend the weekend with Aaliyah and her inner circle; Joe keeps Kaitlyn (Joe’s CIA boss – Nicole Kidman) informed of Cruz’s progress; Kyle comes to Joe desperate for help with an asset.

4th Episode: The Choice of Failure

Cruz is put in a compromising position while out with Aaliyah and friends in the Hamptons, causing Joe and Kaitlyn to doubt her; Kaitlyn and Westfield (Joe’s CIA boss – Michael Kelly) confront Kyle over what happened at the border, complicating things further for Joe and her team.

5th Episode: Truth is the Shrewdest Lie

Joe and Neal deal with the aftermath of Kate’s horrific accident; Westfield and Kaitlyn deploy Joe’s team to subdue a terrorist threat in the U.S. town; Cruz’s cover may be in jeopardy.

6th Episode: The Lie is the Truth

Joe’s team confront a threat. Kaitlyn and Joe are scolded during a debrief. Aaliyah bonds with Cruz over a spa day; Bobby, Tex (CIA soldier – Jonah Wharton), Two Cups (CIA soldier – James Jordan), Randy (CIA soldier – Austin Hébert) and Tucker (CIA soldier – LaMonica Garrett) confront a threat at the Safe House; Kaitlyn and Joe are scolded for the San Antonio mission (inside the U.S. territory) in a debrief.

7th Episode: Wish the Fight Away

While shopping in Manhattan for the wedding, Aaliyah and Cruz get closer; Kate returns home only to say goodbye to her mom Joe once again; Joe guides Cruz through internal struggle and doubt in completing the mission.

8th Episode: Gone is the Illusion of Order

The mission may be in jeopardy. Eshan (Aaliyah’s fiancee – Ray Corasani) confronts Cruz. Joe and the team prepare for the worst.

The ending of the Special Ops Lioness is explained below.

The first season-ending is explained below

Fighting her emotional state of mind, the Lioness agent Cruz manages to kill her intended target – her close friend and her secret lover Aaliyah’s father (and Aaliyah’s fiancee) in the end.

This physically and emotionally draining assassin assignment took a heavy toll on the minds and spirits of Cruz and Joe. Both of them came out emotionally scarred after this dangerous mission.

CIA in charge of the Lioness operation, Joe, Kaitlyn and Westfield also have conflicting views on the said assassination carried out by their team; as they consider the possible fallout of their mission.

Cruz admits that perhaps her assassination mission might give rise to the next generation of terrorists coming out of the Middle East; as Aaliyah’s children might hear about her father’s murder in the future.

They all fear that this assassination might unleash another generational war and terrorist acts – the general feeling of hatred towards the Western nations (especially the USA) among Middle-East people.

The official status of the season two renewal of the Special Ops Lioness is explained below.

What about its season two?

So far, there is no official announcement about its season two renewal.

This spy series has become Paramount+’s most-watched global series in the first 24 hours since its two-episode premiere on the streaming service on July 23.

Chris McCarthy, CEO of Paramount Media Networks also disclosed recently, “It scored as the #1 new scripted series of the year on cable and one of the highest performers of all time on Paramount+.”

Therefore, we have no doubt that season two of this hit show by Taylor Sheridan surely has a foreseeable future and the same may be announced by them in the near future.

And we might see the Lioness taking a new mission in the future.


Poster of this 2023 Spy Thriller series

Special Ops: Lioness (2023) – poster.

Key details of this 2023 Spy Thriller series

GenreDrama, Action, Thriller
Original languageEnglish (USA)
Age-restrictionsA (18+)
SeasonOne (1)
EpisodesEight (8)
ReleasedJuly-September 2023
CreatorTaylor Sheridan
CastZoe Saldana, Laysla De Oliveira, Nicole Kidman, Michael Kelly, Morgan Freeman, Dave Annable, Stephanie Nur, Jill Wagner, etc.
NetworkParamount+
About – Special Ops: Lioness (2023).

Trailer of this 2023 Spy Thriller series

Official Trailer – Special Ops: Lioness (2023) | Paramount+ | YouTube.

If you like this show created by Taylor Sheridan, then perhaps, you can also check out the Yellowstone series created by him.

Featured & Other Images – Credit: Special Ops: Lioness (2023) Series | Paramount+.


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