Dune Part 2 ending explained

Dune Part 2 closed out the main saga but left the door open for a third film! Just what happened in the sci-fi epic?

ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /
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Dune Part Two hits theaters this weekend to wrap up the plotlines of the 2021 film. But how does the ending possibly set up a third film? 

Caution: This article contains SPOILERS for Dune Part Two

Picking up where Dune left off, the movie focuses on Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) as he joins the Fremen, the desert warriors of Arrakis. Paul is out to take down the Harkonnens, who murdered his father on behalf of Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Christopher Walken).

Paul's mother, Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), accepts a place as the Fremen's Reverend Mother and preaches to their belief that Paul is the legendary warrior destined to lead the Fremen to greatness. Paul, taking the name Muad'Dib, is soon in a relationship with Chani (Zendaya), who thinks the Fremen don't need some savior. 

Paul at first resists the idea as he knows it's part of a manipulation by the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood to influence humanity. The revelation that Jessica is actually Baron Harkonnen's daughter (which she herself was unaware of) doesn't help.

But driven by revenge, Paul goes on a strange "vision quest" and so accepts his place as a leader to command the Fremen into a huge war with the Harkonnens. 

What is Paul's big decision?

It comes down to a massive battle between the two sides, with the Fremen unleashing sandworms, explosives, and more to devastate the Harkonnen forces. Paul personally kills Baron Harkonnen himself to avenge his father. He then faces off against Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) in a personal fight before killing him. 

With the Harkonnens gone, Paul now declares that the Fremen can be in line to take over. To solidify this alliance, he arranges a marriage between himself and the Emperor's daughter Irulan (Florence Pugh). This leads to a big shift from the original novel where Chani accepted this, knowing Paul still loves her. In the film, Chani is upset about both this and Paul becoming this "Messiah" and is last seen riding a sandworm to parts unknown. 

How does the ending set up a third film?

When the rest of the Great Houses refuse to accept Paul's rule, he sees no other choice but to order the Fremen to board ships and start imposing his will on the rest of the Empire. His allies like Gurney are ready to follow Paul's command to "send them to Paradise." Watching it, Jessica muses to Paul's unborn sister Alia (Anna Taylor-Joy) that Paul has just begun a "Holy War."

This is obvious sequel fodder and clearly how Denis Villeneuve wants to adapt the next book in the saga, Dune: Messiah. That follows Paul's continuing war for control of the universe, which has tragic consequences. Villeneuve has been upfront on how he would love to make this film, so setting up the sequel makes sense.

Speaking to Gizmodo, Villeneuve discussed how he wanted to end in a way that could conclude things but leave it open for a third film.

"The idea [of] that thing that becomes out of control. That betrayal and that tragedy. I had to finish there. And for that I was adamant. I was like 100% certain that it was the best way. I love movies that end like that, like in a strong statement."

One change, however, is in Chani, as in the novel, she continues to fight at Paul's side and eventually bears his children. Having her leave Paul for her path would alter some of the plotlines in Dune: Messiah and shows Villeneuve wants to put a spin on Frank Herbet's original work. So Dune Part Two may have been the great wrap-up of the main saga, but it leaves the potential for another film to continue this incredible sci-fi epic.

Dune Part Two now in theaters.

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