House of the Dragon foot fetish scene is “disgusting, demeaning, assault”


House of the Dragon has some pretty transgressive stuff in it. Remember when Daemon Targaryen tries to seduce his teenage niece? What about when he murders his wife with a rock? Or when he beheads a guy in open court? (Huh, most of the violent and inappropriate stuff involves Daemon; who woulda thought?)

But somehow, it was a quieter scene that really made people uncomfortable. In Episode 9, “The Green Council,” Larys Strong tells Alicent about a spy network at work in the Red Keep. Throughout the scene, Alicent exposes and displays her feet, until Larys starts, um…enjoying himself. The implication is that this is the price she pays for Larys to tell her about this spy network and then destroy it. It is, to put it lightly, an inappropriate workplace exchange.

Olivia Cooke, who plays Alicent, broke the scene down for Variety. “It’s disgusting, it’s demeaning, it’s assault,” she said. “But she’s not really left with any choices. She’s surrounded herself with psychopaths and murderers. There’s no one else to turn to. Maybe she thought she could turn to Talia, but she’s turned out to be a spy.”

She knows what Larys can do, how powerful he is and how he won’t stop shy of killing his entire family in order to progress in this court. The dynamic shifts slightly all the time over the scene. He probably holds more weight. It’s difficult, because she has no choice but to go along with a lot of the things that he does. She needs the information. Ultimately, she knows how she’s going to get it. If she doesn’t have the information, it could result in her death or in her usurpation or in her children’s death. I don’t think any of this is taken lightly. It’s just an absolute necessity, unfortunately. I don’t think there’s any manipulation going on. It’s just she needs the information, and this is how she gets it.

Why is that foot fetish scene ickier than all the other violence, transgressive stuff on House of the Dragon?

I’ve gone back and forth on the scene. I think part of my issue is that Larys being driven to do what he does because he likes feet porn seems a little small for the room. I think I’d prefer a focus on his Machiavellian ambition.

And also, the scene is just icky. And yes, I do grasp the irony of me being put off by this by barely blinking an eye at incestuous violence. This show has my moral compass all out of whack. “It is wild, because there are beheadings, people getting their cocks cut off, graphic violence and brothel scenes, but getting my feet out and him wanking off, that’s the most shocking,” Cooke mused.

It’s funny, isn’t it? I knew on the day, I didn’t want this to be gratuitous at all because I know my feet will end up on various sites. It’s wild how you can’t predict which scenes people have the biggest reactions to, and unfortunately it was that one.

You can watch all 10 episodes of House of the Dragon now on HBO Max. Season 2 probably won’t be along for a couple of years.

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