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Michael Balderston

Special Ops: Lioness episode 3 recap — Cruz has a bad beach day

Ray Corasani and Stephanie Nur in Special Ops: Lioness

NOTE: this post contains spoilers for Special Ops: Lioness episode 3, "Bruise Like a Fist."

As Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) drives to meet with Aaliyah (Stephanie Nur) in the Chesapeake Bay, Joe (Zoe Saldana) goes over her mission with her on the phone. When Joe tells her to dump her phone, she pulls over on a bridge, takes an extra beat at the beauty of the area and then tosses it into the water. So begins her first real solo flight on this mission.

New and old friends

Thad Luckinbill in Special Ops: Lioness (Image credit: Greg Lewis/Paramount+)

After Joe and Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman) had another meeting at a swanky D.C. restaurant, Joe is stopped by a fellow government agent, Kyle (Thad Luckinbill). He wants to use Joe's team for an extraction of a high-value international prisoner as he is transferred from one US prison to another. Joe is reluctant, telling Kyle it's illegal. He counters her operation isn't exactly the cleanest game in town either. Joe can spare three of her team, which Kyle happily accepts. He’'l owe Joe a big favor when she needs it most though.

Cruz arrives at Aaliyah's house, mic'd up so the team can hear everything going on from the hotel they are holed up in. As she is taken back to meet Aaliyah, the guards are running a check on her — including facial ID and car registration — to make sure she is who she says she is. Everything seems to check out.

Aaliyah introduces Cruz to her friends. Malika (Carla Mansour), Nashwa (Layla Mohammadi) and Nala (Priscilla Doueihy) call Cruz (going by Fatima), another stray Aaliyah picked up. Then there are the guys, Sami (Adam Burton) and Kamal (Sam Asghari), acting like typical bros, and Aaliyah's fiance Ehsan (Ray Corasani), working away on his computer.

When Cruz reveals her one-piece suit, Aaliyah playfully teases she needs something a bit more revealing. However, Aaliyah is shocked when she sees the extent of the bruises on Cruz's body (though she is able to hide the scars on her back) and calls a doctor to examine her.

As Joe listens in as the doctor examines her, nervous her cover will be blown as he correctly notices the bruises are from a fist rather than a car accident as Cruz has said. However, Cruz quickly pivots, saying her boyfriend abused her and she's already reported him. She wants the doctor to keep it a secret between them so things aren't awkward and she can try and start fresh with these new potential friends. The doctor agrees. Joe is impressed by Cruz's ability to think on her feet.

Aaliyah and Cruz get some alone time at the beach. Aaliyah shares a bit more about herself and her dreams, but also warns Cruz her friends are not to be trusted. When Cruz asks why, she says her future husband is not the only thing someone picked out for her.

Unwelcome guests

Joe heads home for the night to find Kate (Hannah Love Lainer) making out with a teen boy on their living room couch. Joe sends the boy home immediately. Kate is mad, arguing Joe doesn't have the right to tell her what to do. Joe, as her mother who brought her into this world, has every right. But Kate counters she didn't ask to be born, so she is going to spend time her way with the life she didn't want in the first place (we technically see your point Kate, but it's still a flimsy argument).

Joe goes to tell Neal (Dave Annable), working on the porch while all this occurred. He is not upset, saying he and Kate had an agreement over make-out sessions already in place. Maybe he should have kept Joe in the loop on that one.

While Cruz tries to sleep, Aaliyah's friends are still partying. She goes to get some water when Sami starts aggressively hitting on her. Cruz says no, but Sami doesn't stop, so she punches him in the throat and heads back to her room. Sami is still not satisfied. He tries to open the locked door. Cruz finds a pen to use as a weapon if he breaks in. Fortunately, the guards see this on camera and escort Sami back to his room.

What the world knows

Martin Donovan and Nicole Kidman in Special Ops: Lioness (Image credit: Greg Lewis/Paramount+)

Kaitlyn talks with her husband, Errol (Martin Donovan), who shows her a news story. We don't see what it is but it clearly has to do with Kaitlyn's work. She says she didn't leak it. Errol infers her latest mission is going after a powerful oil company (whose head owns the house Aaliyah and Cruz are at). He tells her to be careful.

Elsewhere, Two Cups (James Jordan), Tucker (LaMonica Garrett) and Randy (Austin Hébert) work with Kyle on the evac mission. As they track the prison van moving their target, they see another car is also on its tail.

When the other car makes its move, Kyle uses an EMP to hit the prison van, disabling it and its cameras on board. The other car flies by and in their surprise gets t-boned by an 18-wheeler. Kyle and the team retrieve the prisoner and make their escape. Another car does quickly follow them, but they shoot it off the road.

They change cars, clothes and destroy the evidence. Joe's team worries this is going to get reported, but Kyle assures them things like this happen every day and goes ignored. Even if someone reports on it, the administration will kill the story before it goes national.

Between this and Kaitlyn's talk of leaking news stories, it highlights just how much control these government agencies have in what the world knows about.

A surprise trip

The next morning, Sami is sent home and Ehsan says they are all going on a trip to a surprise location. This puts Joe, Bobby (Jill Wagner) and Tex (Jonah Wharton) in motion as they need to try and follow Cruz, which will be tough because they are getting on a plane.

Again, showing her ability to think fast, Cruz says the tail number of the plane, making it sound like an innocent question, so the team hears it and can track where the plane is heading. A good thing, because as the plane takes off Cruz is now entirely on her own surrounded by Aaliyah and her friends.

New episodes of Special Ops: Lioness release Sundays on Paramount Plus.

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