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Dune: Part Two’s ending, explained

A man stands in front of a crowd in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve returns to Arrakis with Dune: Part Two, the long-awaited sequel to his 2021 Oscar-winning hit, Dune. Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet reprises his role as Paul Atreides, the young Duke of House Atreides, now exiled following the attack on his family by Baron Harkonnen. Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, and Javier Bardem reprise their roles from the first movie, joined by newcomers Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, and Christopher Walken.

Dune: Part Two has received near-universal acclaim, sitting at an impressive 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and cementing itself as the first major contender for the 2025 Oscars. The film is a visual masterpiece, complemented by an epic narrative of massive scope. Dune: Part Two provides a satisfying conclusion to Paul’s quest for revenge but leaves the door open for a potential third film to be based on the novel Dune: Messiah. To help you understand the intricacies of this ending, we break it down in detail.

The fall of House Atreides

Oscar Isaac in Duke Leto Atreides lookign to his left in Dune
Image via Warner Bros,

The first Dune sees Paul and his family travel to the desert planet of Arrakis, vital to the known universe as the sole source of “spice,” a substance that allows interstellar travel. However, the Atreides are attacked by the planet’s former fief holder, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, who kills Paul’s father, Leto, forcing Paul and his pregnant Bene Gesserit mother, Lady Jessica, into exile. The pair join a group of Freman, led by Stilgar, and venture into the deep desert, with Paul seeking revenge for Leto’s murder and hoping to free Arrakis of foreign intervention.

Dune: Part Two picks up immediately after its predecessor’s ending, with Paul and Jessica living among the Fremen. Although many suspect Paul is a spy, others believe him to be Lisan al Gaib, a prophesized savior who will free Arrakis and bring back the green to the now-deserted planet. Stilgar convinces Lady Jessica to become their new Reverend Mother. She reluctantly agrees and drinks the Water of Life, a lethal poison which she survives, inheriting the memories of all the females in her lineage.

Lady Jessica and Chani talk in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros.

The poison also awakens the mind of her unborn daughter, forming a mental bond between them. Now fully believing Paul to indeed be a messiah, Lady Jessica begins spreading his gospel around Arrakis. Meanwhile, Paul adopts the Fremen customs, including learning how to ride a sandworm, and is accepted into them, adopting the name Muad’Dib and taking a lover, Chani.

The Harkonnens’ grip on Arrakis is weakening, thanks to the Fremen’s successful raids and the ineffectiveness of the brutish Glossu Raban, Baron Harkonnen’s nephew. Thus, the Baron sends his other nephew, the psychopathic Feyd-Rautha, to take control of Arrakis and suppress the attacks. Feyd-Rautha attacks a major haven for the Fremen and kills and injures many, leading the survivors to the south. Paul is reluctant to follow, as he’s being haunted by visions of destruction caused by his journey south. However, he ultimately agrees, knowing it’s the best way to combat the Harkonnens.

How does Dune: Part Two end?

Timothée Chalament and Austin Butler as Paul and Feyd-Rautha having a knife duel in Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Dune: Part Two‘s final act begins with Paul drinking the Water of Life against Chani’s wishes. Falling into a coma, he experiences several visions, including seeing his adult sister, played in a cameo by a familiar face. Awakening from the coma, Paul finally admits his destiny and declares himself Lisan al Gaib, rallying the Freman to fight against the Harkonnens and the Empire. He challenges the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, who arrives at Arrakis with his daughter, Irulan. Paul also gets ahold of his family’s atomic warheads thanks to the return of his former mentor, Gurney Halleck.

As the Emperor confronts the Baron and his nephews for their failures to control the Freman, Paul and the Fremen launch an attack on Arrakis’ stronghold fortress. The Fremen overwhelm Harkonnen’s forces and take back the planet, while Paul enters the fortress and kills the Baron, taking the Emperor, Irulan, the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, and Feyd-Rautha prisoners. Declaring his plans to become the new Emperor by marrying Irulan, Paul is challenged to a duel by Feyd-Rautha, whom he ultimately kills.

Paul then threatens to destroy the spice reserves with his remaining warheads, finally overpowering the Emperor, whom he forces to kneel before his signet ring. The other noble houses arrive at Arrakis, attending the Baron’s summon, and refuse to acknowledge Paul’s ascendancy. Paul instructs the Fremen to attack, as Lady Jessica proudly declares that her son’s “holy war” has begun. In the desert, a distraught Chani summons a sandworm, intending to leave.

Does Dune: Part 2 set up the third chapter, Dune Messiah?

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet as Chani and Paul looking to the distance in Dune.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Although Dune: Part Two provides a satisfying ending to the story that began with its predecessor, it also leaves the ending open for a potential follow-up. Villeneuve has declared his intention to make a third film to serve as the conclusion to his trilogy, based on Dune Messiah, the sequel to Frank Herbert’s original Dune.

Adapting Dune Messiah would be a considerable task, as the story takes place twelve years after the ending of the original novel. Dune: Part Two also makes some minor changes to the story’s direction, most notably having Chani leave Paul—her literary counterpart remains with him as his mistress while he’s married to Irulan. However, Part Two also puts in motion several key plots necessary for Messiah to work, including introducing the character of Alia, Paul’s sister, who plays a key role in his empire.

Dune: Part Two | Official Trailer 3

Considering Villeneuve’s interest in embracing Herbert’s idea of Paul Atreides as a subversion of the “Chosen One” trope, then making Dune Messiah the ending of his trilogy makes perfect sense. It will all depend on Dune: Part Two‘s performance, but something tells us the film will do healthy business at the box office, meaning we will surely take one final visit to Arrakis in the next few years.

Dune: Part Two is now playing in theaters worldwide.

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David Caballero
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David is a Mexican freelance writer with a deep appreciation for words. After three years in the cold world of Marketing…
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