Special Ops: Lioness Season 1 Episode 4 unravels the threads of Joe’s life, simultaneously plucking at the strings of her career and family.
As Cruz gets in deeper with Aaliyah and her friends, things escalate quickly and eventually become dire during a seemingly low-stakes outing.
Joe is dealing with a secondary work crisis on top of Cruz’s issues when her family situation comes crashing down in this harrowing episode, leaving everything unresolved.
Joe’s career is typically the most significant stressor in her life, so when we see her family situation crumbling before her eyes when Kate’s involved in a severe car accident, it’s more jarring than usual.
Meanwhile, Cruz feels like she’s entirely in control of Aaliyah and her friend group until she finds herself in grave danger without the ability to fend for herself.
Cruz’s undercover operation runs smoothly early in the episode as she bonds with Aaliyah.
Finding out more information about her mark, Aaliyah admits that her life has been planned for her in a way that she’s unsatisfied with. As Cruz and Aaliyah talk about her impending nuptials, Aaliyah admits she doesn’t want to get married.
Aaliyah knows she has no choice, and Cruz seems to understand the magnitude of her situation for the first time.
Laysla De Oliveira delivers cautious discomfort well as Cruz seems to be finally fitting in with more than just their mark, but Aaliyah’s entire friend group.
The Lioness team, watching from a yacht docked yards offshore and other spots on the beach, have mixed emotions about their current situation. While Tucker and the guys are bored to tears listening to gossip, Joe uses it to her advantage.
Joe’s train of thought on the Amrohi operation is interrupted when it’s revealed that the CIA higher-ups have picked up Kyle’s Texas operation, and the Lioness team is in hot water for helping out.
While Joe does her best to recalibrate and scramble, it’s clear that she’s unsettled by the idea that her offering a favor to Kyle on Special Ops: Lioness Season 1 Episode 3 could be putting her in the line of fire.
Even though Joe’s team faces disciplinary action, Aaliyah and Cruz never stop moving, and neither does Joe or the Lioness team. Joe can take the news in stride, even though it rattles her.
Though there have been a few hiccups, everything is more or less going to plan until we see Hannah Love Lanier’s Kate in a car with some friends. The dramatic irony of the moment is quick and painful as a shocking car wreck brings everything to a grinding halt.
Kate’s brought to Neil’s hospital, and though he’s rattled, he remains calm for his daughter as she gets checked out. When he calls Joe to share the details, he believes he knows the full extent of her injuries.
Quickly, it becomes clear that Joe can’t handle pressure in more than one area of her life. Her career can be full of difficulties when her family’s being held together, but with Kate injured, she’s far more emotional.
Things get even more complex when Neil learns from a colleague that Kate’s pregnant after running a pre-op blood panel.
Dave Annabel delivers an immaculate performance as Neil, floored by the information, has to tell his daughter that her friend is dead and she’s with child.
Joe’s not in the right state of mind to be focused on her work, but she has no choice as Cruz and Aaliyah head out to a club.
When she wants closer surveillance, Joe’s the only person on the Lioness team able to pass as a patron of the beach bar. She heads in and quickly gets male attention, brushing it off when she gets a call from Neil.
As Joe discovers her fourteen-year-old daughter is pregnant, Cruz heads to the bar for a break from her group. The same sleazy guy that just hit on Joe uses the same moves on Cruz, but she invites him to dance with her instead of pushing him away.
Joe’s clearly spiraling, and in her lack of focus and Cruz’s enjoyment of the male attention, both miss him slipping something into her drink.
Everything moves quickly, as usual. A fight breaks out in Aaliyah’s group, causing a massive disruption in the club, and Joe loses sight of Cruz, who’s already feeling the effects of her drugged drink.
If Joe can’t take care of her actual daughter until she’s back home, it’s clear that the frantic pace at which she moves to rescue Cruz is the next best option.
The Lioness team moves quickly and efficiently, tracking Cruz quickly and administering care. Joe and two of the guys hang back with the assailant, and it’s clear she’s had enough.
As Joe puts all her fear and aggression into scaring the attacker, ensuring he’ll feel the pain for days to come, we see her in one of her most vulnerable moments of Special Ops: Lioness.
Joe’s clearly having a difficult time with everything happening around her, and the place of grounding she manages to find is here, ensuring this man won’t hurt anyone else.
When the team reconvenes back at their safe house, Cruz is doing well enough for them to begin to feel disappointed in her.
Kaitlyn, who’s arrived in the interim, isn’t sure they can trust Cruz to finish the job. Joe reveals that Kate has been in an accident, and the two agree to chat on their way back to DC in the morning.
As the episode wraps up, Joe’s in tears for the first time. With open vulnerability, she’s clearly terrified as everything spirals out of her control.
With Joe already crumbling under pressure, the rest of the season will prove harrowing as she tries to balance the most challenging aspects of her personal and professional life.
As we hit the midseason, Special Ops: Lioness Season 1 has set up a long line of dominoes that have only begun falling.
Cher Thompson is a staff writer for TV Fanatic, who you can follow on Twitter.