Game of Thrones falters badly in episode eight. No One had major resolves, but was poorly written with a sluggish pace. As the show surpasses the books, it's painfully obvious that the lack of crisp source material has become detrimental. Dynamic characters that have intrigued us from day one are stale and predictable. Last week's return of The Hound (Rory McCann) led to an obvious conclusion, while Arya's (Maisie Williams) stabbing proved anything but fatal. The Mother of Dragons finally gets back to Mereen, but it's handled so nonchalantly; you'd think she left to get her hair done.

No One opens with a profusely bleeding Arya hiding in Lady Crane's (Essie Davis) dressing room. The actress, unbelievably, is a whiz at stitching up wounds and nursing half-dead teenage girl's back to health. She takes Arya to her room. After a draft from the opium poppy and a wound check-up, our wannabe assassin drifts off to sleep and recover.

The Hound stalks the forest to find the men that murdered Septon Ray and the free folk. He finds a few stragglers, quickly dispatching them with his axe. We cut to Mereen, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) are saying their goodbyes. Varys is embarking on a secret mission to Westeros.

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At King's Landing, Cersei (Lena Headey) gets a surprise visit from a group of the Faith Militant. Their plans to escort her away from the keep for her trial are met with deadly resistance. Cersei refuses to leave. Then unleashes The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) on the hapless zealots. He only has to tear one head off before they get the message. Cersei is staying put.

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) arrive at the siege of Riverrun. The reunion between Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne is almost sentimental. She offers to return his sword, but he refuses to take it back. Outside the meeting tent, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is stupefied that Podrick is alive and a squire. He has a little fun at Podrick's expense, but all in good nature. These two characters are minor, but have been through a lot. Jaime allows Brienne to talk to the Blackfish (Clive Russell). She tells Jaime they will be enemies if he attacks the castle.

Cersei enters the King's throne room. She is not allowed to see Tommen (Dean Charles Chapman). He issues a stunning decree. Trial by combat will no longer be allowed. Cersei and Ser Loras will be judged by the septons. This is an epic betrayal by her son. Without The Mountain to protect her, Cersei will be vulnerable at her trial.

Tyrion basks in the glory of his negotiated peace. He pours wine for Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) in attempt to lighten the mood. He tells a joke that falls on deaf ears, but Missandei is loosened up by the alcohol. She takes a stab at comedy, only to be surprised by Grey Worm's judgment of her humor. He exclaims that he is a soldier and knows what a good joke is. The revelry ends as the trio look out the temple windows. The Masters ships are in the harbor and about to attack.

At Riverrun, Jaime issues an ultimatum to Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies). He needs to get back to Cersei and is willing to kill every Tully still breathing to do it. Edmure demands to be let into the castle as the true Lord of Riverrun. The Blackfish refuses, then is stunned as his men allow Edmure entrance. They acknowledge him as their leader. Edmure opens the gates and the Lannister army walks in. Brienne and Podrick escape by boat. The Blackfish decides to stay and go out like a man. We never see him fight or die. The news of his demise is passed on to Jaime by a soldier. Jaime waves goodbye to Brienne as they drift away.

Mereen is under attack. The Masters rain fire on the city as Tyrion and company watch from the pyramid temple. Grey Worm has had enough of Tyrion's politics. They were betrayed exactly as expected. They hear a thud from above. As the Unsullied open the door to see what the commotion is, Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) walks in. Drogon is seen flying away in the distance. The Queen has returned in the nick of time.

The Hound comes upon the remaining attackers. They are about to be hung by the Brotherhood without Banners. The men that killed the septon and the villagers had dishonored them. The Hound demands blood, but is only giving the joy of hanging two. The men all sit around a fire. The brotherhood asks The Hound to join their cause. They will need him for the upcoming battle with The White Walkers.

Arya comes out of her opium induced sleep. Her nemesis, The Waif (Faye Marsaye), has brutally killed Lady Crane. Arya, incredibly spry after multiple stab wounds and a heroin respite, runs away through the streets of Braavos. She leads The Waif to her secret room, where she pulls out Needle, then cuts the candlelight. At the House of Black and White, Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) follows a trail of blood. The Waif's cut off face has taken Arya's place on the wall. Arya puts her sword point into his chest. She has passed the test. She has become no one. Arya indignantly replies, "I am Arya Stark of Westeros. And I am going home." She leaves the House of Black and White a free woman.

You would think that Danaerys returning to Mereen, The Hound finding the brotherhood, Arya leaving Braavos, and Riverrun falling without a shot, would be a thrilling episode. Far from it, No One was an absolute snoozer. The story was doled out like pudding in a bowl. It's terribly disappointing to have key plot movement handled so timidly. I can't believe the Blackfish is dead. There has to be some subterfuge here on Edmure's part. If the Blackfish is killed so easily, after all this buildup, then what was the purpose of establishing his toughness? Next week's episode is the long awaited Battle for Winterfell. I have a feeling that we'll see the Blackfish and Littlefinger appear again as the latest episode of this hit HBO series begins to draw to a close.

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Julian Roman