“Special Ops: Lioness” made waves this summer as it introduced Zoe Saldana‘s formidable Joe McNamara, heading the Lioness CIA program and mentoring the troubled Marine Cruz Manuelos, portrayed by Laysla De Oliveira. The show’s July 23 premiere set new viewership records on Paramount+ with 6 million total viewers.
However, the season finale of “Lioness” took an unexpected turn, combining high-stakes action with moments of anticlimax while introducing a luxurious yacht as a crucial extraction location.
Spoilers Alert: If you haven’t seen the finale and don’t want to know how it ends, please stop reading.
The finale revolves around Lioness Cruz, who gets dangerously close to her target, Aaliyah Amrohi, the daughter of a billionaire suspected of funding major terrorist acts. Their ill-fated romance earns Cruz an invitation to Aaliyah’s wedding in Spain, which is more akin to a fancy funeral due to her arranged marriage to Ehsan. A conspicuous luxury yacht offshore serves as the Quick Reaction Force transport, with Joe and her CIA boss Kaitlyn Meade, played by Nicole Kidman, aboard.
Cruz, nursing facial injuries from her covert missions, finds herself awkwardly mingling with the wealthy but disapproving wedding party. A major revelation occurs when Aaliyah discloses that her father is passing the business to Ehsan, her future husband. Ehsan, being both intelligent and suspicious, conducts thorough online research on Cruz, discovering her true identity through old social media posts.
What follows is a surprising and unsettling confrontation between Cruz and Aaliyah’s father, Amrohi, interrupted by the alarmed Ehsan. A series of events leads to a swift and intense action sequence: Cruz eliminates Ehsan, defends herself from Amrohi, and ultimately takes down her primary target. The transition from gelato tasting to a brutal mission accomplishment is jarring but effectively underscores the stakes.
Cruz escapes, setting off alarms, and prompts the yacht into action while evading Amrohi’s security. The ensuing firefight could have been more intense, but the elite team dispatches their foes with remarkable ease. The only casualty is within their own team when Cruz, overcome with emotion, punches Joe for the emotional turmoil she endured.
Cruz contemplates the consequences of her actions, realizing that they may have inadvertently paved the way for the next generation of terrorists. She decides to quit the Lioness program, casting doubt on whether she would have returned for a potential Season 2.
As compelling as Laysla De Oliveira’s portrayal of Cruz is, it remains uncertain whether her character would willingly go undercover again. The finale concludes with Aaliyah processing the horrifying discovery of her dead father and future husband, setting the stage for potential future developments in the series.