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Michael Balderston

Special Ops: Lioness episode 5 recap — Joe pulled between mission and family

Zoe Saldana in Special Ops: Lioness

NOTE: this post contains spoilers for Special Ops: Lioness episode 5, "Truth is the Shrewdest Lie."

Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira) is given a shot of something the morning after she was drugged to get her moving as the team is on their way to a new location, so in a show of unity we're not going to waste any time before diving into what happened with this episode of Special Ops: Lioness.

The sacrifice

After driving through the night, Joe (Zoe Saldana) and Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman) meet Neal (Dave Annable) at the hospital as Kate (Hannah Love Lainer) is heading to recovery after surgery. The doctor tells Joe and Neal that Kate's body rejected the pregnancy and they were successful with surgically repairing her leg, but it's too soon to know what her recovery looks like. Joe goes to be with Kate when she wakes up, but Kaitlyn reminds her she only has a couple of hours.

Neal and Kaitlyn go over the usual pleasantries. Kaitlyn tells him he can ask her what's really on his mind, but Dave knows all too well he won't be able to get a straight answer. Kaitlyn doesn't think he should give up on Joe even with all the struggles of their lives. Neal admits she still takes his breath away.

When Kate wakes up, she and Joe have a much needed heart to heart. Joe cops to being a bad parent and understands Kate hates her, but Kate reassures her it's more that she misses her. Joe reveals to her daughter that she is a soldier and the reason she has missed so much of Joe's life is because she works to make sure other families don't lose out on those same opportunities because of outside forces, with Kate being the unfortunate sacrifice. Joe also strips away some of her layers, telling Kate she made similar mistakes, including an unplanned pregnancy when she and Neal were first married and timing was not ideal. But that baby was Kate, and Joe doesn't regret it.

The two seem to leave on good terms, as Joe and Kaitlyn head out. Joe thinks she is going to rendezvous with her team in San Antonio, but Kaitlyn explains they first have to go see the boss.

Rules of engagement

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

Joe and Kyle (Thad Luckinbill) sit down with Kaitlyn and Westfield (Michael Kelly). First they drill into Kyle, reminding him he royally screwed up but his intel is good regarding the Al Qaeda members coming to San Antonio. When asked if he thinks it's a temporary stop or a target, Kyle says they believe the city is not a target. With this, they decide to conduct a mission to capture the Al Qaeda agents but under the guise of it being a San Antonio law enforcement operation. They'll use Joe's team, but Kyle will run point.

After Kyle is dismissed, Westfield gives Joe the third-degree, reminding her that it is not her team, but his, and any and all operations must be approved by him. Joe is dismissed and heads to San Antonio, with Kaitlyn in tow, which she says just shows how much trouble Joe is really in.

Setting up operations in a hangar, the team is briefed on the mission and told if it's successful the evidence of them conducting the extraction is wiped away. But if things go off the rails again, they are going to be screwed.

As Joe watches the Al Qaeda agents arrive at the house, they note the men are armed, including bombs that they are preparing to arm. This isn't a stop, San Antonio is the target. With this new intel, Kaitlyn is able to get the greenlight for them to kill instead of capture and then have San Antonio forces clean the scene up.

Joe does not want Cruz joining them on the mission, but she is overruled. Kaitlyn stresses to Joe not to worry about Cruz, while also telling Cruz not to be too overzealous, because that's how one of them gets killed.

The operation goes off relatively smoothly, though one man did arm a suicide bomb before Cruz killed him. Joe briefs the San Antonio forces on what to do next to clear the area and safely detonate the bomb. An officer tells Joe well played, but she sternly says back it's not a game.

Learning the truth through lies

Dave Annable in Special Ops: Lioness (Image credit: Greg Lewis/Paramount+)

In the ride back to base, Cruz worries about what she is going to say to Aaliyah (Stephanie Nur), as it's been three days since they were separated at the club. Kaitlyn tells her to tell the truth about the drugging, just leave out real names. She says all the best lies have a basis of truth.

When Cruz calls Aaliyah, the situation doesn't even come up though, as Aaliyah is just happy to see her, even if it is over FaceTime. There is a strong vibe Aaliyah's feelings for Cruz are more than just as friends. She invites her back up to the Hamptons, where the two of them can be alone as Aaliyah's other friends have left.

Kaitlyn may think the best lies come from truths, but her husband and Neal have learned to tell the truth from the lies (or omissions). When Kaitlyn gets home, Errol (Martin Donovan) knows she was involved in what happened in San Antonio, which has made the news. She says more attempts are coming, and with terrorists getting help from Mexican cartels to cross the border there's nothing they can do to stop it.

Joe arrives back at the hospital. Kate is asleep but doing fine. Neal spots blood on Joe's face and he asks her coldly when she became a hitman. When Joe goes to talk to him, Neal is watching the news coverage of San Antonio. It certainly seems like he knows what Joe did. Rather than talk to him, she takes a call from Cruz to get back into a situation she knows how to handle.

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

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