You might have some questions after watching Dune, the main one being, “wait, that’s it? There’s got to be more, right?”
If that’s the case, don’t worry: You’re not alone. As epic and engrossing as Dune is, it only adapts part of Frank Herbert’s novel, resulting in an inconclusive ending that sets up an as-yet unconfirmed Dune: Part Two.
Despite its abruptness, Dune‘s ending still leaves us with a lot to get excited about, and quite a bit to unpack. From the meaning of Paul’s visions to what those nasty Harkonnens will do next, here are the main takeaways from Dune‘s ending – and what we can expect from the sequel.
“My road leads into the desert”
Dune ends with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) on the run from the Harkonnens. They meet the desert-dwelling Fremen, whose leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem) chooses to bring them back to the community of Sietch Tabr to decide their fate. However, Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun) challenges Stilgar’s decision, resulting in a duel to the death with Paul, which Paul wins.
Dune’s ending leaves us with a lot to get excited about, and quite a bit to unpack.
This fight is a big turning point for a number of reasons. Firstly, in taking Jamis’ life, Paul earns a place among the Fremen. Secondly, Jamis’ death is yet another step on Paul’s path to becoming the messianic figure known as the Kwisatz Haderach. As an ominous voiceover warns Paul in his vision of his fight with Jamis, “Paul Atreides must die, for Kwisatz Haderach to rise… When you take a life, you take your own.” By killing Jamis, Paul kills his old self, giving up some of his humanity in the process.
In some ways, that makes this duel the perfect place to end Dune: Part One, even with the feeling of incompleteness. The moments right before the fight are the last we see of Paul Atreides: the Paul we see before he and Jamis cross crysknives and the Paul we see after Jamis’ death are two very different people.
If that sounds dark, that’s because it is: Paul may be determined to ally with the Fremen as his late father (Oscar Isaac) intended, but as Paul’s visions show, the Fremen’s devotion to him as a superhuman messiah figure – the Lisan al-Gaib, or Mahdi — leads down a road of violence across the universe.
What’s the deal with Paul’s visions?
Paul’s visions are a motif throughout Dune, typically featuring his future relationship with Chani (Zendaya). As the movie progresses, they also reveal that the Fremen will fight a holy war – explicitly called a jihad in the novel – across the galaxy in his name.
The impending holy war rightfully terrifies Paul. Remember that he didn’t choose this grand “destiny.” It was crafted over centuries by the Bene Gesserit’s breeding program, the same Bene Gesserit who spread the prophecy of the Lisan al-Gaib through the Fremen population of Arrakis. The whole endeavor is grossly manipulative, especially of the Fremen, and while Paul’s story is presented on the surface as a hero’s journey, there’s still an underlying darkness to it.
Do Paul’s visions mean that holy war is inevitable? Not necessarily. After all, Paul’s vision of Jamis promising to show him the ways of the desert couldn’t be farther from what happens when the two characters meet. Thanks to the Jamis vision, we know that Paul’s burgeoning prescience isn’t completely accurate. Instead, it shows possible futures that may or may not come to pass.
Still, seeing as Chani and the bloody crysknife he used to kill Jamis continuously show up in Paul’s visions of galactic war, it’s clear that the duel was a pivotal moment not just in Paul’s life, but in the lead-up to the oncoming crusade as well.
Keeping up with the Harkonnens
Dune ends with House Atreides in a pretty rough spot, which is great news for House Harkonnen, their lifelong enemies. After executing a brutal surprise attack on the city of Arrakeen and eliminating Duke Leto, the Baron (Stellan Skarsgård) and his nephew Rabban (Dave Bautista) are back in control of Arrakis.
To put it simply, things are going to get a lot weirder going forward.
However, it turns out that using the Emperor’s elite Sardaukar fighters to destroy your worst enemy is expensive, so the Harkonnens have to make a profit on the spice trade, and fast. The Baron tells Rabban to “squeeze” Arrakis as hard as he can, and to kill all the Fremen while he’s at it. That certainly bodes well for the future and for the planet, right?
So what can we expect from
To put it simply, things are going to get a lot weirder going forward. The conflict between the Fremen and the Harkonnens will escalate, as will Paul’s powers and influence over the Fremen. Meanwhile, as hinted at in one of Paul’s visions, Jessica’s pregnancy takes a turn you will not expect unless you’ve read the books (or seen David Lynch’s Dune). Important characters from the novel, like Feyd-Rautha and the Fenrings, may show up, along with the Emperor and Princess Irulan. Hopefully we’ll also find out what happened to Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson), whose fates were left unclear after the Harkonnen attack.
Of course, all of this speculation means nothing unless Warner Bros. announces a Dune sequel, a future that is looking more and more likely thanks to a strong showing at the box office. If Denis Villeneuve has his way and he does indeed get to make Dune: Part Two, you can definitely expect a lot more: a more conclusive ending, more sandworms, and 100% more Zendaya.
Dune is now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.