Episode 3 of “Special Ops: Lioness” Season 1 is titled “Bruise Like a Fist.” The Paramount+ show, created by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Yellowstone), has been moderately intriguing, despite its dated theme. The episode continues the work of building a solid foundation for the show through some carefully crafted tense moments. Like the suggestive title of the episode, the bruises here are the problems that now show up for the central characters due to decisions made in the last episode. As the show starts to reveal some of the socio-politicial players, the episode concludes during the tense climactic cliffhanger, to keep us interested for next week.

Special Ops: Lioness (Season 1) Episodes 3 Recap:

The Party

Cruz (Laysla De Oliviera), as shown in the last episode, accepts Aaliyah’s (Stephanie Nur) pool party invitation. As Joe (Zoe Saldana) guides her with her background story, Cruz tries to blend in with Aaliyah’s friends. Which is not as easy as it seemed at first. Aaliyah’s friends are not as welcoming as Aaliyah is. They are superficial and judgemental, and often resort to snide remarks about Aaliyah needing to have a ‘pet’ to take care of. Insinuating Cruz is the new pet.

As it is a pool party, customs dictates the revelers to adorn appropriate swimsuit. Cruz wears a one piece, which is not as revealing as Aaliyah would have liked. Aaliyah, and her girl friends, wear bikinis and she would like Cruz to do the same; except Cruz does not want to, since she has significant bruises from her last ‘endurance’ test that Joe sanctioned. But she has to relent to the perseverance of Aaliyah. Naturally her bruises shock Aaliyah, and she calls a doctor.

Although Cruz was naming a car crash as the reason behind her bruises, it could not fool the medical professional. The doctor immediately recognizes them as injuries from a fist. He feels compelled to report that to the police. Cruz, and Joe and her, team who are listening to the conversations via microphones, feel the danger of her cover being blown. Before Joe can take some drastic, irreversible action, Cruz manages to handle that perfectly. She admits to having a violent boyfriend who gave her the bruises. She mentions she has already reported it, and asks the doctor to not tell her new friends as she is trying to ‘start a new life with new friends.’ Cruz’s quick-thinking impresses her team, including her superior, Joe. The doctor allows Cruz to continue the masquerade in front of Aaliyah.

The Detour

Meanwhile, one of Joe’s colleagues, Kyle (Thad Luckinbill), asks her for an ‘off-the-books’ favour. After his initial reluctance, Joe relents. She gives three of her best resources for 48 hours to Kyle, who would need their help to extract a prisoner near the Mexican border. The mission does not go as smoothly as possible. None of Joe’s men want to fire a bullet towards Law Enforcement officers. And they do not have to.

But things change when more members show up than what Kyle anticipated. Kyle neutralizes the vehicles, but as a result some of the vehicles get run over by a speeding truck. Kyle, along with Two Cups, Randy and Tucker, manages to extract his man. Then they get rid of the vehicle and destroy all evidence and move.

Joe’s Problem at Home

Joe, meanwhile, also faces a problem at her home. Her eldest daughter, Kate (Hannah Love Lanier), has already shown signs of being a problem for her mother. When Joe finds her and her boyfriend having sex, she puts a hard stop on that. Kate, obviously, is not happy and she tells Joe that she cannot just show up once in a blue moon and start dictating terms. After the furore, Joe tries to find her husband, Neal (Dave Annable). Neal, an oncologist,  is busy arguing with his colleague over a case on a video call.

Joe informs Neal about Kate’s unruliness. Neal is not surprised. He mentions they have a deal that as long as there are no below-the-belt activities, they are fine with Kate’s dry-humping. Joe tells that she should have been consulted, and to that, Neal replies ‘When?’ Insinuating Joe’s unavailability for the most of the time. Some early signs of familial problems that could come in Joe’s way are seen here.

Special Ops: Lioness (Season 1) Episodes 3 Ending Explained:

Where Is Aaliyah Taking Cruz to?

At Aaliyah’s mansion, Cruz and her bond over a stroll at the beach, as the other members go out for shopping and dinner. The party returns when Cruz has gone to bed. Cruz gets up to get a glass of water and encounters Sami, a friend of Kamal, who is the brother of Aaliyah’s fiance, Ehsan. Sami tries to force himself on Cruz, and Cruz sucker punches him.

Another problem starts to arise as Joe fears the worst. For sure, Cruz can defend herself against Sami. But doing so might raise Aaliyah and her Amrohi security team’s collective eyebrows. When a drunk and lustful Sami bangs on Cruz’s door, Joe starts to get ready, for the worst. But without three of her best fighters (who are on Kyle’s mission), her team is also not at their one hundred percent.

But things do not escalate, thanks to some members of the Amrohi security detail. They notice Sami’s actions and quickly intervene to take Sami away. They ensure that Cruz, or her alias, Zora Adid, is safe. The following morning, when Aaliyah learns about this, she has Ehsan sent Sami away. She, along with her fiance, apologizes to Cruz. As a form of apology, she books a surprise for Cruz. She takes her, along with the rest of the party members sans Sami, on a ride.

Now this creates a problem for Cruz, as she learns the surprise involves a plane. Joe, along with her depleted team, follows them. But they are not sure where Aaliyah is taking their plant. And neither are we. Cruz, quite smartly, does a thing to ensure that Joe would have some sort of idea. She reads the private jet’s registration number casually, pretending to not know what it means. But that is the only info Joe gets. With the plane about to take off, Cruz truly becomes helpless, as no one can come rescue her mid-air. And depending on the destination, it might take some time for her team to reach there as well.

Who are the loose ends?

This episode shows a couple of loose ends that might come back to haunt Joe and her team. The extraction mission for Kyle is the primary one. That was a rogue mission, and the involvement of her team can put her up against Homeland security. In Cruz’s mission as well, the doctor who felt compelled to report might try to authenticate Cruz’s words.

Who are Qudrah Oil?

Till now, we have only seen Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman) taking updates from Joe and occasionally, some advice. As we see her talking with her husband, Errol (Martin Donovan), seemingly a millionaire businessman, we see some of the intentions behind the entire ‘Lioness’ season. It is, as expected, oil. Qudrah Oil is the company that Aaliyah’s Amrohi family owns. They sell 12 million barrels in a single day. The big oil conglomerates of the western world seem to have some stake in the mission as well. But as Errol warns, if Kaitlyn, or Joe in this case, pokes too much into it all, they are bound to have consequences.

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Special Ops: Lioness (Season 1) Episode 3 Links: IMDbRotten TomatoesWikipedia
Special Ops: Lioness (Season 1) Episode 3 Cast: Zoe Saldaña, Laysla De Oliveira, Dave Annable, Jill Wagner, LaMonica Garrett, James Jordan, Austin Hébert, Jonah Wharton, Stephanie Nur, Hannah Love Lanier, Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman
Special Ops: Lioness (Season 1) Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery & Thriller


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