‘Special Ops: Lioness’ Season 1 Episode 7 Recap: Forbidden Love Jeopardizes a Mission 20 Years in the Making

We’re just one week away from the finale of Special Ops: Lioness, which means the drama is just about to reach a boiling point. This week’s episode, “Wish the Fight Away,” was full of shocks, scares, and shopping, with Cruz very nearly blowing the whole op after she (gasp!) caught feelings for Aaliyah. Here are a few things we caught in this week’s episode, from suspicious CIA ops to a drunk and silly shopping session.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Special Ops: Lioness season 1, episode 7

Joe and Kaitlyn are going to try to get one over on the White House

In last week’s Episode 6, we saw Morgan Freeman’s Secretary Of State Mullins say that Cruz’s (Laysla De Oliveira) big wedding mission had to be run by Joe (Zoe Saldana) and Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman) out of the White House situation room, where the government would have a say in what’s going on. This week, we learn that they’ve pretty much wholly ignored those instructions, saying somewhat confusingly that they can’t contact Cruz because then the whole op would be blown. I get that they can’t contact her, but when Cruz contacted them, couldn’t they have pivoted? It was a little confusing, but you have to imagine those CIA chickens are going to come home to roost when the whole op inevitably goes sideways. 

Aaliyah’s wedding seems like a nightmare

L-R Stephanie Nur as Aaliyah and Laysla De Oliveira as Cruz Manuelos In Special Ops: Lioness, episode 7, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023.

Karolina Wojtasik/Paramount+

When Aaliyah (Stephanie Nur) takes Cruz to New York for a champagne-fueled shopping spree, she tells her that she doesn’t actually know when her wedding is going to be, lest someone kidnap the bride or tip some baddies (or Cruz) off as to her dad’s location on a particular day. Aaliyah just knows it’s in Mallorca sometime within the next week. She doesn’t seem all that bothered about it, though, telling Cruz that, in essence, she’s already married since the contracts sealing the coupling have already been signed. The wedding is just a celebration, she says. 

It’s also apparently not a barrier to sexy time, since Cruz and Aaliyah pick right up where they left off with the kiss in the Hamptons, going in for some stomach kisses in the dressing room and slinking away to a hotel suite together, where they get busy while Kyle (Thad Luckinbill) listens in, all in the name of keeping Cruz safe. 

Cruz and Aaliyah are in love (maybe?)

L-R Laysla De Oliveira as Cruz Manuelos and Stephanie Nur as Aaliyah In Special Ops: Lioness, episode 7, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023.

Karolina Wojtasik/Paramount+

After Aaliyah nods off, Cruz sneaks out of the room, texting Joe that she needs a chat. Cruz is clearly freaking out about what went down, and after Aaliyah catches her and asks what she’s doing, Cruz tells her that she needs to take a walk to clear her head. She might not come back, she says, since what they did was wrong. 

In reality, Cruz only walks a couple floors down to Kyle’s room, where she meets with a newly arrived Joe. Joe tells her that it’s no big deal that she slept with Aaliyah as long as she realizes that it’s all just pretend. Joe realizes that Cruz has been alone a lot of her life and may, therefore, not really know how to deal with feelings, but she tries to convince her that Aaliyah is just using her for a last fling before she’s off to become a babymaker and a babyraiser. She also tells Cruz that Aaliyah’s dad is “financially responsible for every conflict in the Middle East since 9/11,” comparing him to Osama Bin Laden, who she notes was also a father. Would Cruz not have done every single thing she could in order to nail Bin Laden, even if it involved lying to his kids? Cruz says she’s still in, reluctantly, after Joe tells her that she just needs to pretend for seven more days. That’s it. 

When Cruz slinks back into the room, she has a conversation with Aaliyah, who tells her that her father won’t be at the wedding. He can’t be seen in public, she says, saying it would be “suicide for him.” Aaliyah tells her that, to her, their relationship is worthwhile since it means that she’ll have known true love at least once in her life, and says that Cruz simply has to come to the wedding because there will be 500 people there “but no friends.” That’s laying it on pretty thick, to be sure, and Cruz takes the bait. 

It’s worth noting here that Cruz also fiddled with her (very obvious) transmitter during part of her conversation with Aaliyah. It doesn’t seem like anything was said that the government doesn’t know because Cruz does fill them in later in the episode, but it’s indicative of the fact that a) Cruz is waffling and b) Cruz’s transmitter has a big green light on it that’s pretty easy to see, find, and make assumptions about.

The team is on the move

Laysla De Oliveira as Cruz Manuelos and Zoe Saldana as Joe In Special Ops: Lioness, episode 7, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023.

Luke Varley/Paramount+

After Aaliyah jets off to Riyadh for a little more wedding prep, Cruz hops on a chopper with Kyle and Joe and heads back to Virginia, where the CIA team is prepping for the mission. There, Cruz gets a strict talking to both by Joe and Kaitlyn, who want her to remember that she’s a Marine first and foremost, and she catches both a meal and a few hours of sleep. 

Joe also heads home to hang with her daughter Kate (Hannah Love Lanier), who’s arriving home from the hospital. They have an up-and-down chat about responsibility, and there are oblique references to Joe’s job maybe being a little more serious than she lets on, and then the two cry it out. Joe tells her husband Neil (Dave Annable) that when this mission is over, she’s asking for a desk job, which might seem pretty ominous, especially for anyone who’s seen a spy movie or two. 

Kaitlyn also pops home, where she has a very stoic conversation with her husband Errol (Martin Donovan), who seemingly knows everything about the operation she’s working on and tells her that it’s a pretty hairy situation. “Unrest in the region protects those in power,” he says, telling her that the U.S. essentially stands relatively idly while the different factions in the Middle East fight it out because the dictators we know are better than the ones we don’t, especially when it comes to the cost of oil. Kaitlyn’s op, he says, is “on the verge of removing the financial center of that unrest, and as tragic and awful as the attacks may be, they (meaning the government) worry that the unknown is worse.” Kaitlyn then makes a joking reference to ending up in a Spanish prison, and he asks if that’s actually where she’s going. She says maybe, maybe not, and I don’t know…I get kind of a weird vibe from him. Is he going to blow her mission just to make a few bucks? 

Cruz has the worst flight ever

The CIA gang is off to Barcelona. From there, they’ll travel down to the coast of Spain, where they’ll set up camp on a ship relatively close to the peninsula where the wedding is being held. Cruz will have to make it to the house on her own, assuming she’ll even be able to stomach it because right before the flight takes off, Joe hands her a laptop containing footage of all the terrorist attacks they know that Amrohi, Aaliyah’s dad, has funded. “It’s an eight-hour flight,” Joe says, “so you’re not going to finish it, but I want you to try. I want you to remember the Marine who volunteered to do this because we need her.” When we catch a glimpse of what she’s watching a bit later, we see it’s basically a cavalcade of car bombs, close-range executions, and beheadings, which has to be hard to watch, even for the hardest Marine. We’ll see if it ends up convincing Cruz to do her job.

Questions and predictions

Michael Kelly as Byron Westfield In Special Ops: Lioness, episode 7, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023.

Luke Varley/Paramount+

We’re rolling into the finale next week, meaning some drama is about to go down. We have lots of questions, too, about where things are going, who’s in love with whom, and just how shady everyone really is. Here are a couple of things we’d love to know, plus a prediction for what’s to come. 

  • Is Cruz going to blow the op on purpose? I suspect that Cruz is going to come out of that flight knowing that Amrohi is evil and deserves to go. I do not, on the other hand, think that she’s going to be okay leaving Aaliyah as collateral damage. Rather, I think she’s going to try to get her out of the house or something before everything goes down, either to safety or with the team. It’s a stupid idea that’s going to end up getting people killed, but that seems about right for what we know about Cruz’s heart.
  • What’s going on with Kaitlyn’s husband? I’ve never really liked Kaitlyn’s husband, Errol. Their relationship seems very icy, and while I have no doubt that they got married for a variety of reasons, most of which probably shake out to “it’s beneficial to us both,” I don’t inherently believe he’s not in whatever game he’s playing only for himself. Who exactly does he work for, and what is his job? And if he knows too much about their op, is he going to tip their hand for a little financial gain for the “right” people?
  • Prediction: Someone big dies in the finale. It wouldn’t be a Taylor Sheridan show if there was absolutely no bloodshed in the season finale. While I think it’s certainly possible we could lose some members of Joe and Cruz’s crew, I’m also betting that either Joe, Kaitlyn, or Aaliyah will die in the shuffle. Maybe Kaitlyn gets it, and Joe steps into her role, leaving Cruz to assume a position of power in the unit. Maybe Joe gets it and doesn’t come home, leaving her family in a whole different kind of turmoil than whatever they’re already in. Maybe Aaliyah is caught in the crossfire, or her dalliances are discovered. I think Cruz makes it out safe for a potential season two, but the rest of the team…I really don’t know.

Behind the Scenes of Episode 7

Check out a special behind-the-scenes look at what went into this episode and what some of the Lioness stars have to say about where their characters are headed as the season comes to a close.

New episodes of Special Ops: Lioness premiere Sundays on Paramount+.

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