Paramount+’s ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ is an action-thriller television series created by Taylor Sheridan (‘Yellowstone‘). It features Zoe Saldaña as Joe, the station chief of the CIA’s Lioness program. Joe recruits Cruz, a Force Recon Marine, for a deadly spy mission that tasks her with befriending the daughter of a suspected terrorist. The third episode, titled ‘Bruise Like a Fist,’ puts Cruz’s training and her fieldwork skills to the test for the first time as she enters her mark’s world and must navigate tricky situations without any external help. If you are wondering whether Cruz completes the next stage of her mission or exposes her true identity, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ episode 3! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Special Ops: Lioness Episode 3 Recap
The third episode, titled ‘Bruise Like a Fist,’ opens with Cruz Manuelos driving to Virginia to meet Aaliyah Amrohi while Joe preps her for their interactions. Joe reminds Cruz to be secretive about her backstory while trying to coerce as much information from Aaliyah and her friends as possible. However, before arriving at her destination, Cruz throws away her phone to avoid any tracking or suspicion from Aaliyah’s camp. Meanwhile, Joe meets her superior, Kaitlyn Meade, and they discuss the mission’s progress, with Joe revealing that Aaliyah has a lot more money and connections in the United States than expected. Joe leaves the restaurant while Kaitlyn meets a senator.
Later, Joe runs into Kyle, one of her colleagues who needs her team’s help for a mission. Kyle reveals that his mark is tracking a smuggling operation linked to Iraq and Syria. However, Kyle’s mark is imprisoned in Mexico. Therefore, he wants the help of Joe’s team to extract his mark while keeping the mission a secret from his superiors. Meanwhile, Cruz arrives at a mansion in Chesapeake, Virginia, where she reunites with Aaliyah. Cruz is introduced to Aaliyah’s friends Malika, Nala, and Nashwa. Aaliyah also introduces Cruz to her fiance, Ehsan, his brother, Kamal, and their friend, Sami. However, Aaliyah’s friends are skeptical of Cruz, and Sami tries to flirt with her.
Elsewhere, Joe meets her team, who are keeping surveillance on Cruz. She assigns Tucker, Two Cups, and Randy to help Kyle with his missions. Meanwhile, Boby and Tex help Joe to continue monitoring Cruz. Meanwhile, Aaliyah discovers the scars on Cruz’s body and calls a doctor to examine her. As a result, Joe fears that Cruz’s cover might be blown. However, Cruz implies she was physically abused and manages to talk herself out of the situation, keeping her cover intact. Later, Aaliyah tells Cruz about how her family controls every aspect of her life, including the friends she surrounds herself with.
At night, Joe comes home to find her elder daughter, Kate, hooking up with her boyfriend. Joe throws out Kate’s boyfriend before the mother and daughter get into a heated argument. Meanwhile, Cruz tries to fit in with her new surroundings. However, Sami tries to hook up with Cruz until she beats him up. As a result, Cruz once again risks blowing her cover. Elsewhere, Kaitlyn meets her husband, Errol Meade, and they discuss the situation in Iraq. Kaitlyn reveals she is working on a case linked to an oil baron in Iraq, leading to a warning from Errol. Joe’s B team heads to Texas for the extraction mission with Kyle. The mission nearly goes sideways, but the group successfully extracts the asset and gets him to safety.
Special Ops: Lioness Episode 3 Ending: How Does Joe Track Cruz?
In the episode’s final act, Joe returns to the base near Cruz’s location, where her team tracks their asset. However, the group is unable to learn anything of consequence about Aaliyah and her family’s potential ties with terrorists. Meanwhile, Cruz tells Aaliyah about Sami sexually assaulting her. As a result, Ehsan becomes pissed at Sami, and the latter is sent back to his home country. Later, Aaliyah apologizes to Cruz for Sami’s behavior.
The incident galvanizes the bond between Aaliyah and Cruz, hinting that the former is comfortable letting her guard down in Cruz’s presence. Ultimately, trouble brews once again in the mission when Cruz is forced to move locations at short notice. Ehsan suggests the group experience a change of scenery and travel to a remote location. As a result, Joe is also forced to shift her operation’s base and tail her asset quickly. However, since Cruz is unaware of the destination, which Aaliyah keeps as a surprise, Joe cannot track her location.
Moreover, Joe and Cruz have already broken off directed contact and can only exchange information through the surveillance comms Cruz carries with her. Eventually, Cruz deduces that she is being taken to an airplane, and Joe tracks Cruz to a private airstrip. However, she needs the airplane’s tail number to track Cruz’s destination and follow her.
The plane almost takes off before Cruz’s quick thinking pays off again as she is able to convert the plane’s tail number to Joe through the comms. As a result, Joe can track her asset, but Cruz is headed blindly to an unknown destination, and there is no telling what challenges she might face. Furthermore, Joe’s workforce has been spread thin, and it will likely take some time for her to follow Cruz and arrive at the same destination where she can set up a base camp. Therefore, Cruz will likely have to navigate any tricky situations on her own, and she could blow her cover and jeopardize her mission with one wrong move.