RECAP: ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ Premiere Proves Taylor Sheridan Deserves All Of Hollywood’s Money

[Lynsey Addario/Paramount+]

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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This article contains spoilers from the premiere episode of “Special Ops: Lioness,” available on Paramount+

The first episode of “Special Ops: Lioness,” the CIA-thriller from “Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan, dropped Sunday, and you absolutely have to see it to believe television can be this good.

The first thing that should cross your mind after the gut-wrenching opening sequence of the series is “no wonder Taylor Sheridan has such huge budgets for his creative endeavors.” In just the first few minutes, we’re introduced to the horrors of the CIA’s Lioness program, which embeds American servicewomen in the lives of the mainly Middle Eastern women around male targets.

We start with the show’s lead, Zoe Saldana, as the character of Joe as she is forced to blow up one of her team in order to protect their mission. From here, she’s dragged back the U.S. to explain the situation to her higher-ups, played by the ever-iconic Nicole Kidman (as Kaitlyn Meade) and golden boy Michael Kelly, who has literally never played a bad role.

But with a new gap in their ranks, Saldana and her colleagues are left to recruit a new woman to the program. This is where Laysla De Oliveira’s character of Cruz Manuelos comes in.

The former stripper-turned-burger-flipper lands herself in a Marine recruitment office after a horrific series of physical altercations with her disgusting boyfriend. Once in the service, it turns out her skillsets far exceed those of most of the male recruits, making her perfect for the program.

In what feels like a bit of a head-spin, Manuelos is brought into the Lioness program, flown to the Middle East and introduced to the CIA and military folks played by “1883” and “Yellowstone” stars James Jordan and LaMonica Garrett. Both actors are absolutely unrecognizable from their former cowboy characters and far departed from the poetic brut of the wild west.

Within a day, Manuelos is embedded with her mark and we’re all left in a state of total chaos, fear and adrenaline, right as the closing credits roll. (RELATED: ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ Already Tipped For Second Season, Possible Franchise With Paramount+)

Thanks to Sheridan’s impeccable talent, it is near impossible to guess where the story of “Special Ops: Lioness” is going. In any case, I will definitely be tuning in every single week to see what happens next.

Check out the trailer here and watch the full episode on Paramount+ today: