Special Ops: Lioness — next episode, recaps, cast and everything we know about the Taylor Sheridan series

Zoe Saldana and Nicole Kidman in Special Ops: Lioness
Zoe Saldana and Nicole Kidman in Special Ops: Lioness (Image credit: Ramona Rosales/Paramount+)

Not everything Taylor Sheridan does involves cowboys and ten-gallon hats, as evidenced by his new series, Lioness, which is features the talents of Nicole Kidman and Zoe Saldana. Sheridan is taking a crack at the spy genre with this new show, his latest Paramount Plus original series.

This is just one of many shows that are set to comprise the "Sheridan-verse." In addition to the already popular Yellowstone, as well as its prequels 1883 and 1923, Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown, Sheridan has the likes of Bass Reeves, Land Man and another Yellowstone spinoff, 6666, in the works. Then there is Special Ops: Lioness.

When can you start watching Lioness, who else is in it and what's it about? Here's everything you need to know about the show.

When is the next Special Ops: Lioness episode?

The Special Ops: Lioness finale is now available exclusively on Paramount Plus. The final episode of the spy thriller's inaugural season is titled "Gone Is the Illusion of Order."

All episodes of the series can be watched on the streaming platform.

Special Ops: Lioness plot

Lioness is set to break away from the familiar confines of the western genre like many of Sheridan's popular shows (even Tulsa King has some elements of a western mixed in with its more predominant gangster trappings), as it looks to be a full-fledged spy drama. Here is the official synopsis:

"Lioness is based on a real-life CIA program and follows Cruz Manuelos, a rough-around-the-edges but passionate young Marine recruited to join the CIA’s Lioness Engagement Team to help bring down a terrorist organization from within."

Special Ops: Lioness recaps

Here are the synopses and the recaps for Special Ops: Lioness episodes that have been released so far:

Special Ops: Lioness episode 1, "Sacrificial Soldiers"
"Things go awry for Joe and her team during a mission out in the field; Joe is left devastated. Upon her return home, Joe's family life presents it's own challenges. Cruz tries to escape a dangerous situation. Joe must choose a new recruit." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 1 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 2, "The Beating"
"Joe continues her training with Cruz; her methods are questionable. Cruz starts to build a relationship with Aaliyah. Kate gets into a fight during her soccer game. Neal has to deliver difficult news to a patient." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 2 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 3, "Bruise Like a Fist"
"Cruz is invited to spend the weekend with Aaliyah and her inner-circle. Joe keeps Kaitlyn informed of Cruz's progress. Kyle comes to Joe desperate for help with an asset." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 3 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 4, "The Choice of Failure"
"Cruz is put in a compromising position while out with Aaliyah and friends in the Hamptons; causing Joe and Kaitlyn to doubt her. Kaitlyn and Westfield confront Kyle over what happened at the border, complicating things further for Joe and her team." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 4 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 5, "Truth is the Shrewdest Lie"
"Joe and Neal deal with the aftermath of Kate's accident. Westfield and Kaitlyn deploy Joe's team to subdue a terrorist threat. Cruz's cover may be in jeopardy. Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 5 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 6, "The Lie Is the Truth"
"Aaliyah bonds with Cruz over a spa day. Bobby, Tex, Two Cups, Randy and Tucker confront a threat at the Safe House. Kaitlyn and Joe are scolded for the San Antonio mission in a debrief." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 6 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 7, "Wish the Fight Away"
"While shopping in Manhattan for the wedding, Aaliyah and Cruz get closer. Kate returns home only to say goodbye to her mom once again. Joe guides Cruz through internal struggle and doubt in completing the mission." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness episode 7 recap.

Special Ops: Lioness episode 8, "Gone Is the Illusion of Order"
"Unforeseen circumstances leaves the mission in jeopardy. A suspicious Eshan confronts Cruz before his wedding day. Joe and the team prepare for the worst." Read WTW's Special Ops: Lioness season finale recap.

Special Ops: Lioness cast

Laysla De Oliveria in Special Ops: Lioness

Laysla De Oliveria in Special Ops: Lioness (Image credit: Lynsey Addario/Paramount+)

The two big stars attached to Special Ops: Lioness are Nicole Kidman and Zoe Saldana. Kidman is set to play Kaitlyn Meade, the CIA's senior supervisor with plenty of experience playing the political game, but who also tries to balance her work in the intelligence community, her at-home life and being a mentor to a young recruit going down a familiar path. Saldana is starring as Joe, the station chief of the Lioness program responsible for training, managing and leading the female undercover operatives. Both Kidman and Saldana are also executive producers on the show.

Kidman is an Oscar winner (The Hours) best known for her movie roles in titles like Moulin Rouge!, Cold Mountain and more recently Being the Ricardos and The Northman. She has also been doing more and more TV, including an Emmy-winning performance in Big Little Lies and other high-profile series like Nine Perfect Strangers and The Undoing. In an interview with What to Watch, Kidman said that told Taylor Sheridan that "he had to write me a role."

Saldana also has a number of major movie roles on her resume, including starring in Avatar: The Way of Water and in the MCU, with her latest appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. She also had a big hit on the TV side in 2022 with the Netflix limited series From Scratch.

While Kidman and Saldana are the headliners, they are not playing the main character of Cruz Manuelos. That role belongs to Laysla De Oliveira. De Oliveira is best known for appearing in the Netflix series Locke & Key.

One more big name joining the cast is Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman, who is slated to play Edward Mullins, the US Secretary of State.

Other Lioness cast members include Michael Kelly (Jack Ryan, House of Cards) as CIA Deputy Director Byron Westfield; Jill Wagner (Teen Wolf) as Bobby, a CIA Special Activities Division operative; Dave Annable (Yellowstone) as Neil, Joe's husband; LaMonica Garrett (1883) as Tucker, a member of Joe’s team; James Jordan (Mayor of Kingstown) as Two Cups, also part of Joe’s team; Austin Hébert (Ray Donovan) as Randy, a tech specialist in charge of surveillance; Hannah Love Lanier (The Tiny Mighty Club) as Kate, Joe and Neil’s daughter; Stephanie Nur (1883) as Aaliyah, the daughter of a billionaire businessman with ties to terrorism; and Jonah Wharton (The Rookie) as Tex, another member of Joe’s team.

Check out some more pictures of the Special Ops: Lioness cast right here

Special Ops: Lioness trailer

The premiere date for Special Ops: Lioness was shared via the show's official teaser trailer, which features Zoe Saldana, Morgan Freeman and Nicole Kidman prominently. Watch directly below:

Is there going to be a Special Ops: Lioness season 2?

Check out our post on the status is for Special Ops: Lioness season 2 for an in-depth look at the situation, but long story short, we do not know what Paramount Plus plans to do with Special Ops: Lioness after it concludes its first season at this time.

How to watch Special Ops: Lioness

Lioness is a Paramount Plus original series, so it is going to be exclusive to the streaming service. Paramount Plus is available to consumers in the US, UK and a number of other international markets. US subscribers have a couple of plan options, including ad-supported and ad-free versions, while UK and other markets only have one plan.

In addition to Lioness, Paramount Plus exclusively carries Taylor Sheridan series 1883, 1923, Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown (plus Yellowstone outside of the US), as well as new original Star Trek series, including Star Trek: Picard, and Paramount Plus original movies. US subscribers can also access live TV and sports on Paramount Plus. Find out what's new on Paramount Plus this month.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.