October 4, 2023

“An intriguing start to what promises to be a classic espionage action-thriller makes Special Ops: Lioness a must-watch without a doubt.”

Hold on tight, Special Ops: Lioness is finally here. The latest series from Taylor Sheridan has been building up nicely ahead of its series premiere. The series premieres on Paramount+ this Sunday with the first two episodes. We have seen the first chapter of this exciting new show (Sadly, the only screener we received.) And we can reveal that the series is one that is highly enjoyable, thrilling and features some excellent performances from all concerned.

Zoe Saldana as Joe in Lioness Season 1 streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Lynsey Addario/Paramount+


From Academy Award nominee Taylor Sheridan, the espionage thriller features a star-studded cast, including series lead and executive producer Zoe Saldaña, Laysla De Oliveira, Emmy Award nominee Michael Kelly, with Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman, and Academy Award winner and executive producer Nicole Kidman. SPECIAL OPS: LIONESS is produced by MTV Entertainment Studios and 101 Studios for Paramount+. The series is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution outside of Paramount+ markets.


Inspired by an actual U.S. Military program, SPECIAL OPS: LIONESS follows the life of Joe (Saldaña) while she attempts to balance her personal and professional life as the tip of the CIA’s spear in the war on terror. The Lioness Program, overseen by Kaitlyn Meade (Kidman) and Donald Westfield (Kelly), enlists an aggressive Marine Raider named Cruz (De Oliveira) to operate undercover alongside Joe among the power brokers of State terrorism in the CIA’s efforts to thwart the next 9/11.


The original series will also star series regulars Dave Annable, Jill Wagner, LaMonica Garrett, James Jordan, Austin Hébert, Jonah Wharton, Stephanie Nur and Hannah Love Lanier. The series is executive produced by Taylor Sheridan, David C. Glasser, Zoe Saldaña, Nicole Kidman, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari, David Hutkin, Jill Wagner, Geyer Kosinski, Michael Malone and John Hillcoat.



The show is a winner from the start. It is gritty, action-packed, and dramatic, and sets the tone for what is to come nicely. An intriguing start to what promises to be a classic espionage action-thriller makes Special Ops: Lioness a must-watch without a doubt. The opening to the first episode will grip the audience and not let them go.

The story of the opening episode sets the tone, the finer details, and the characters up ahead of what promises to be a gripping series. We don’t get to meet some of the cast in the opening episode (no Morgan Freeman yet), but that hardly matters. The characters we do meet are more than enough to keep us invested. Zoe Saldana is sublime as Joe. Her character in the first episode shifts from toughened warrior to a sad outsider in her own family. It is a performance that grabs us as we watch the conflicting sides of the character.

At the start of the episode, Joe is communicating with her covert operative deep inside a terrorist cell in the desert. However, Joe has dropped the ball. She has taken her operative’s denial of not having a tattoo at face value. In true style, it is revealed that the operative does indeed sport a tattoo. And to make things worse, it is of a cross. This is discovered, blowing her cover and leaving Joe in a predicament that will only end one way. She has a choice: send in an armed team to extract her operative or order a strike on the compound, thereby killing her operative and anyone else inside. Joe has to live with the consequences, no matter what option she chooses.

Zoe Saldana as Joe in Lioness Season 1 streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Lynsey Addario/Paramount+


The standout performance so far though belongs to Laysa De Oliveira. Her character of Cruz will be the one we will be following most closely. When we first meet her, she is a put-upon woman, living with an abusive partner. By the climax of the episode, she is a deep-cover operative, unsure of herself or her mission. But her steely reserve will come into play during the events of the series. She is a character that we become invested in pretty quickly. And we find ourselves cheering her on during the episode. From what we see during this opening, we will be gripping the arms of our seats as she enters the lion’s den. Laysa De Oliveira delivers a brilliant, heartfelt performance, making her the favourite character from the outset.

Cruz is a waitress who is verbally and physically abused by her boyfriend. After being assaulted by him, the following morning, she decides to leave for good. However, before she does, she manages to get revenge on him somewhat. Pursued by him, she crashes through the doors of a Marine recruitment centre. Following harassment by her now ex-boyfriend and his friends lead her to sign up to the armed forces. To everyone’s surprise, including hers, she is a natural, pushing herself not only to be the best she can be but to be better than the male recruits. This brings her to Joe’s attention, who recruits her as her new operative. And drags her into a mission that will have far-reaching consequences.

Laysla De Oliveira as Cruz Manuelos In Special Ops: Lioness, episode 1, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Lynsey Addario/Paramount+


We can’t reveal anything more about the events we witness in the opening episode. But the title of this opening chapter is “Sacrificial Soldiers.” And the title is quite apt. Again, no spoilers but the opening to this episode brings everything into play. And features some tension that has us gripped to our seats.

The synopsis for the episode is: Things go awry for Joe and her team during a mission out in the field; 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 a new recruit. This is only a glimpse of what you can expect from this opening salvo.

Zoe Saldana as Joe and Nicole Kidman as Kaitlyn Meade in Lioness season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo credit: Ramona Rosales/Paramount+


We can say with confidence that Taylor Sheridan has done it again. He has crafted something that is yet another must-see piece of entertainment. Following on from his other shows such as Yellowstone, Tulsa King, and Mayor Of Kingstown, he has delivered a thriller that is superb.

L-R Jill Wagner as Bobby, Thad Luckinbill as Kyle, Zoe Saldana as Joe, James Jordan as Two Cups, Jonah Wharton as Tex, Austin Hébert as Randy in Lioness episode 5, Season 1 streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo credit: Greg Lewis/Paramount+

By the end of things, we will have chewed through our fingernails in tense anticipation of what will happen. And makes Special Ops: Lioness the perfect adult entertainment for a Sunday evening. I can’t wait to watch the second episode when it premieres this coming weekend. I can almost guarantee that it will become something that will amaze the audience on a weekly basis. The Lioness is roaring loudly. Prepare yourselves.

Special Ops: Lioness premieres this Sunday with the first two episodes. A new episode will premiere every Sunday exclusively on Paramount+. To sign up for the streaming service, you can start a seven-day free trial here.





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