House Of The Dragon's Foot Fetish Scene Is Not What You Think It Is

This article contains spoilers for the penultimate episode of "House of the Dragon" season 1.

When "Game of Thrones" was first airing, discussions surrounding the way the series showcased sex and violence (and frequently sexual violence) often eclipsed the riveting storytelling or phenomenal performances on the show. Take a glance at social media following last night's episode of "House of the Dragon," and it appears we are retreading familiar ground. We could be discussing Aegon's sick desire to birth bastards that fight to the death in betting grounds, Rhaenys' shocking appearance during the king's coronation, or the fact that Aemond is continuing to evolve into an anime villain, but instead, we're all debating the ethics of Queen Alicent Hightower, first of her name, and seemingly originator of selling feet pics.

With Viserys dead (RIP KING!!!) and Queen Alicent mistakenly believing that his dying wish was to push forth Prince Aegon as his successor instead of the named Princess Rhaenyra, she brings her findings to The Green Council only to learn that they've been plotting treason for years, regardless of what the king had to say about it. This throws a massive curveball into Alicent's plans, as she reluctantly meets with Larys Strong in her chambers to obtain more information, and the two share an intimate moment that feels uncomfortably familiar. 

This is not the first time these two have dabbled in this sort of exchange, nor is this a sign that Alicent has been "pushed" to a "new low" as many have speculated. This is who Alicent has always been, the difference is that her feelings toward the matter are finally catching up with her.

'A/S/L/ SHOW FEET?' –Larys Strong if he had the internet, probably

There are countless reasons why someone may find themselves sexually excited by feet, but "House of the Dragon" focusing on Larys' clubfoot would have us believe this is a fetishization rooted in his feelings about his own foot. Some may find this implication problematic, but the exploitation of insecurity is an extremely common source of fetish development. Of course, not every fetish is rooted in some sort of personal insecurity, but it's inaccurate to claim that it's anything but a totally normal way of coping.

It's obvious to anyone who is even tangentially familiar with the world of sex work where this scene was heading from the moment Larys sat down, pushing his butt toward the edge of the seat, and leaning back for comfort. He's in prime "about to do the five knuckle shuffle" position, and Alicent is familiar with this song and dance. From the moment she hears his voice, Alicent prepares herself for what she knows is about to come, pun 100% intended.

As Larys dangles information about a secret network of spies like a carrot in front of Alicent, she takes her traditional place across from him, takes off her shoes and stockings, and presents her feet to him. It's impossible for us to know just how long this quid pro quo arrangement has existed, but the almost auto-pilot nature of Alicent's participation indicates that this has been going on for quite some time. It's a traditional "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" exchange, where the only things to show are secrets and feet.

The loss of Alicent's power position

The feet exchange is emblematic of Alicent's current power position in "House of the Dragons." She came into the meeting with the Green Council confident that her interpretation of King Viserys' final words was going to be earth-shattering, only to find out that she'd been completely left out of their planning for years. Her relationship with Larys Strong is a reflection of this, as she turns away from him with her feet presented, going through the motions and painfully accepting what she has done in the name of maintaining order. Alicent Hightower has endured a staggering amount of sexual violence, and in turn, has become complicit in various ways.

Her son Aegon is a serial rapist, and Alicent has done little to put an end to his reign of terror, instead covering it up to keep him protected. It can be argued that Larys Strong is taking advantage of Alicent by only exchanging information and favors for his sexual gratification, but what those favors entail makes the situation complicated. For the small price of "letting a dude crank one out to her bare feet," Larys is willing to burn down Mysaria's house in the hopes of killing her and some of the smallfolk that get in the way.

We can absolutely debate the ethics and implications of how the oppressiveness of patriarchal societies means a woman's greatest weapon is often her own body and desirability, but it's clear that Alicent is finally coming to terms with how this power exchange is actually impacting her on a personal level. Gone are the days when an intelligent queen was wise enough to take advantage of a man's fetish in order to get what she wants.

Something something when you play the Game of Thrones...

For all intents and purposes, Alicent is getting everything she's always wanted ... but at what cost? The Green Council iced her out, Rhaenys has no desire to align with her, and her pattern of "showing feet" has shifted into feeling exploitative at her own expense. Given the patriarchal nature of Westeros, the only way Alicent can ever truly win the game of thrones is by sacrificing all that she stands for. The queen of the morality police is just as corrupt and so-called "deviant" as everyone she has judged so harshly, and she knows it.

This exchange has made Larys a dedicated footsoldier (I'M NOT SORRY), but his penchant for secrets has positioned him as the "House of the Dragon" version of "Game of Thrones" resident gossip Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, and yet, the general consensus on this scene has been dominated by OnlyFans and Quentin Tarantino jokes. If not mockery, people are expressing outright disgust at seeing what is, in the grand scheme of things, an extremely tame and "vanilla" fetish. 

This is a show filled with incest and rape, but somehow a dude burping his worm to the sight of a woman's feet from across the table is apparently a step too far. The presentation of sexuality, violence, and sexual violence in all of George R.R. Martin's stories has always been intentional, and there's clearly more going on with Larys Strong's penchant for playing just the tip(toe) than meets the eye.