Lioness’ Recap, Season 1, Episode 4


Photo: William Gray/Paramount+

Boy, these Special Ops are getting spicy, eh folks? When we left off, Cruz was about to board a private jet with Aaliyah and crew to a surprise destination, Joe and the Lioness team scrambling to find out where they were headed and follow the trip. And wouldn’t you know it, after all that the gang ends up in … drum roll… the Hamptons, baby! Sort of anticlimactic, but things heat up real quick. Has there ever been a CIA operation that didn’t become a cursed, runaway train soon as the steam begins to materialize?

On the beach, Aaliyah’s posse scopes the shore for dick while she and Cruz head out for a swim. Cruz is opening up about marriage, which is not on her mind right now. She wants to finish school, have her own life, etc. “You’re so American,” Aaliyah says before they head further out to the sandbar. A nice little Hitchcockian transition takes us from Ehsan’s spotter’s binocular view from a house on the shore to our Lioness team, covertly scoping the scene from a yacht further out from the beach. Caught between warring factions of predatory surveillance in their own little no man’s land, Aaliyah confesses she doesn’t want to get married either. But what she wants isn’t factored into the equation. “I don’t want to get old. I absolutely dread it.” Cliche’ and even a little cringe, this whole Western characterization of a Muslim woman pining for our idea of freedom, but the dramatic beats are working here — emphasizing Aaliyah’s rock-and-hard-place situation while adding some new, mysterious dimensions to her character. What exactly is she trying to get across, and to whom? What’s the core threat she can’t get away from?

From the boat, the Lioness team identifies Ehsan and Kamal. “A Saudi Royal marrying a Kuwaiti national. Makes no fucking sense,” Joe points out. And if the wedding party ends up in the Emirates, they’re gonna be mad hard to cover. But that’s for later-episode Joe to worry about. Right now, the little extra-judicial extraction she sent her boys on from the last episode is the thing that’s gonna blow up in her face. Like I said, never do a favor for a skeezy fucking Kyle.

Back at CIA HQ in Langley, Kyle’s getting his ass handed to him by Kaitlyn Meade and Byron Westfield. Kaitlyn throws up some surveillance footage from the extraction, his face front and center on the screen. “Congratulations Kyle, you might be the first CIA case officer to make the FBI’s most wanted list.” Something tells me that’s wrong. Anyway, Kyle keeps his cool in the smarmiest manner possible and comes in hot with his excuses all laid out. He also manages to give up the Lioness team for participating. The contact he extracted is “bringing over five known Al Qaeda operatives next week.” If the prison transfer had happened, the contact would’ve been killed by his own cartel. “Then I lose the five,” Kyle says. “I didn’t have a fucking choice.”

Kaitlyn perks up for a sec. Does Kyle have an ID on all five Al Qaeda members? Sure enough, he’s fixing to have them all lined up at a wired-and-ready safehouse come Sunday. The operation’s still ago. “We could pinch this off and be done with it,” Westfield says after Kyle’s dismissed. “Now we’re digging a bigger hole.”

“The bigger this becomes, the more justified it appears,” Kaitlyn retorts. “But if there aren’t five Al Qaeda in the house in Chihuahua, this is hanging us all in the wind.” Life in the CIA, man — this constant state of “we’re in this too deep to turn back now,” an ever-deepening bloody groove emanating from the tremendous wrong turn we took as a country ages ago.

Next on Kaitlyn’s agenda is to give Joe a thorough shellacking for taking part in Kyle’s little edge-lord side-op. But to do that, she’ll have to roll out to the Hamptons, where Aaliyah and the gang are about to turn up in the club. The group gets a table, and Ehsan orders three bottles of Cristal before whining that no one from Goldman Sachs is here; they’re at the bougier place where he wanted to be. “Yawn,” Aaliyah says. “This is where they will end up when they get hungry.” Looks like somebody knows how to play the field better than her wheelin’ dealin’ Saudi Royal fiance, eh?

Meanwhile, the Lioness team figures out pretty quickly from an SUV outside one of them has to go in there to get eyes on Cruz, and it won’t be anyone but Joe. The way it must be when you look like Zoe Saldana, I suppose. At the bar, Joe gets a call from Neil. True to the soap opera nature of all Joe’s family life stuff, their daughter Kate’s been in a gnarly car accident, and Neil’s calling to dish the bigger news: Kate’s pregnant.

“We’re sacrificing our children is what we’re doing,” says Joe. “We’re trading them for our professions.” Bit of a Sheridan tell-don’t-show moment going on here, but it’s the moment that lets us know where this whole family arch could be going. Joe’s hitting something of a rock bottom with her work/life imbalance, and now that something this catastrophic has happened to her daughter in her absence, her will to push Cruz down the same path is waning.

And wouldn’t you know it, Cruz accepts an invitation to dance from the same weeny that tried to hit up Joe minutes earlier. Also … wait, what the fuck, is this guy about to roofie her?! Holy shit, he is. Very much in poor taste here, but also pretty worth it when a fight breaks out, the club disperses, and the team gets to this guy moments later, and Joe scrambles his eggs.

“That’s what we did with rapists in Afghanistan,” she says, Tex and Tucker holding his legs up and open for another couple of stomps. Jesus Christ, man, I guess this is the proper use for that Guantanamo cowboy shit?

Once the date rapist has been sufficiently scrambled and threatened out of talking when he gets to the hospital, the team takes Cruz back to the safehouse where Kaitlyn’s waiting for them. “She can’t manage a weekend in New York; how’s she gonna navigate Riyadh or Damascus?” She poses. But even in her state of doubt, Joe knows they’re too far in it to back out now. “We’ve never had anyone this close to a tier-one target before. What choice do we have?”

“The wedding’s in Dubai,” Cruz chimes in once the adrenaline shot kicks in. “That’s where [Aaliyah] wants it. She gets what she wants.” They can get Cruz over there, but can she last that long? “I can make it,” Cruz says, trembling. Unwavering tenacity is the lifeblood of her operating system, but will it be enough to keep her alive?

• Seriously, how much more of the Dr. Neil soap opera do I have to take per episode? I’m still in total awe of how insane the scene is where Neil lets Kate know she’s pregnant. “That’s why you don’t have sex at 14. That’s why your mother and I forbid you from driving in a car with a teenage driver. It breaks my heart that this is the way you need to learn these lessons.” Bro, uh, your daughter’s still in traction. Like, chill. You sound like a Bluth trying to teach someone else a “lesson” in a particularly morbid episode of Arrested Development.

• When Kaitlyn says to Westfield, “You want to talk to the governor or the senators?” he says, “You take the senators.” Amazing. Kaitlyn being good at talking to senators should be an episode of Dirty Jobs or something.

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