‘Special Ops: Lioness’ Wraps Up Incredible First Season, But Unveils Disappointing Twist

Videos by OutKick

The first season of “Special Ops: Lioness” is finished, and while it was outstanding, I must admit the finale was a shade disappointing.


While I usually keep my reviews pretty spoiler free, that won’t be the case here. It’d be impossible to give a full reaction without diving into the ending because I think there’s some important stuff to take apart.

The entire season has been about a young female Marine named Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) getting close to the daughter of terrorist leader and financier Amrohi.

Zoe Saldana is outstanding in “Special Ops: Lioness (Photo Credit: William Gray/Paramount+)

Everything was building up to his daughter Aaliyah’s (Stephanie Nur) wedding through the first seven episodes. The wedding represented a clear chance for Joe (Zoe Saldana) and the intelligence community to execute the only mission that matters:

Killing Amrohi one way or another. All that matters is he dies.

“Special Ops: Lioness” has been building up to a bloodbath.

The terrorist financier is on the kill list, and Joe has every intention of making sure he burns in hell.

That’s exactly what happened. In a truly epic scene, Cruz takes out Amrohi and Aaliyah’s fiancé in a brutally violent and bloody exchange in a kitchen at the wedding location.

It was one of the best scenes of the show, and as Cruz makes a run for it, Joe and the calvary arrive to start smoking people. From an action perspective, it was one of the best moments we’ve seen all season long. No problems there.

Jill Wagner as Bobby In Special Ops: Lioness, episode 5, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/Paramount+

There was a pointless plot point injected into the “Special Ops: Lioness” finale.

Here’s my problem with the finale. There’s a message about oil that’s injected out of left field. The White House is hesitant to kill Amrohi because they don’t know what it will do to the oil markets. Better to dance with the devil you know than the one you don’t. That second part makes sense. Debating whether to call off an operation for the most wanted man in the world over oil seems a bit much.

Furthermore, Cruz – who has ZERO KNOWLEDGE of this – then seems to make the same argument after killing him. She’s a Marine. Her job was to kill him, and she did what was expected of her. Why is she now concerned about a broader message?

Laysla De Oliveira stars as Cruz Manuelos in “Special Ops: Lioness” (Photo Credit: Luke Varley/Paramount+)

I know a lot of people who have killed A LOT of people in war. They might look like regular guys, but they’ve left more bodies on the ground than cancer. They don’t have moments of debating geopolitical issues before sending someone to the afterlife.

People in roles of that nature and the ones depicted in this show are there because they want to be. They’re there because they believe in the mission. That’s the argument Joe made as Cruz appears to have mentally collapsed.

It’s a minor detail but I found it annoying. I found it annoying there was some massive oil concern and even more annoying Cruz cracked AFTER doing the job. Seemed a bit random.

It was still a great season of TV.

Having said that, “Special Ops: Lioness” still had an amazing first season. It will probably go down as the best show of 2023.

The action sequences were incredible, Taylor Sheridan’s writing was outstanding, it was pretty realistic with a few artistic liberties taken and most of all, the hit series with Zoe Saldana was entertaining as all hell.

It also featured, perhaps, the most powerful scene about terrorism in TV history. It’s important people recognize the evil that’s out there.

I even really enjoyed the love subplot between Aaliyah and Cruz. It was pretty apparent it was going to happen, but I didn’t hate it. It felt raw and real, and both actresses kind of announced themselves to the broader world with this series.

Overall, the first season of “Special Ops: Lioness” I think is a solid 8/10, even with a bit of a weaker than expected finale. If you haven’t already checked it out, I suggest you do on Paramount+. You can thank me later!

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

Leave a Reply