Dune Ending Explained: The Spoilers Must Flow

Francis Villeneuve's "Dune" covers only part of Frank Herbert's eponymous sci-fi book (that's why the full title of the film is "Dune: Part One," after all). We knew all this going into the movie, but even with that knowledge, the ending leaves a lot of unfinished threads, especially for those who aren't familiar with Herbert's source material.

Here's a breakdown of the ending to Villeneuve's "Dune," including what it sets up for "Part Two," which we're cautiously optimistic Warner Bros. will greenlight at some point in the not-so-distant future. Let the spoilers flow!

Things Really Suck for House Atreides

"Dune" ends with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) on the run from the Harkonnens. (Side note: There are a lot of characters here! If you need a refresher on who's who, check out our "Dune" character guide.)

Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) had insidious plans to destroy House Atreides once they took over Arrakis, and he was successful on many fronts — he has killed Paul's father, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), and survived Leto's last attempt to kill him with a poisonous tooth provided him by his betrayer, Dr. Yueh (Chen Chang).

Paul and Lady Jessica escape the Baron's assassination attempts, however, and the two — with help from Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) and Dr. Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) — manage to survive being chased by the Harkonnens and the Sardaukar, Imperial forces who are secretly helping the Harkonnens destroy House Atreides.

Duncan and Dr. Kynes die in their attempts to help Paul and Jessica, and the two barely survive a run-in with a sandworm before encountering a group of Fremen, the native desert people of the planet. It's also worth noting that the only two other people not confirmed dead who were part of House Atreides are the Warmaster Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and the mentat Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson). We don't know their fates by the end of "Part One," but they'll no doubt show up the second "Dune" movie. 

Paul and Jessica Meet Some Fremen

This group of Fremen includes the leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem), who we saw earlier in the movie when he met the still-alive Duke Leto. This is also the first time we see Chani (Zendaya) in real life rather than in one of Paul's dreams or visions.

We also meet Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun), a Fremen who we've briefly seen in Paul's visions as well. The Fremen surround Paul and Jessica and debate whether they should kill them or not. Jessica, using her Bene Gesserit skills is able to get a knife to Stilgard's throat, which earns her and Paul their lives. That is, however, until Jamis challenges Jessica to a duel — she's bested their leader and Jamis challenges her (and indirectly Stilgard) to take over leading the group.

Paul steps in as his mother's champion, and the two prepare for battle. Chani gives Paul her crysknife because she's confident that Paul is going to die and feels bad for him.

Paul and Jamis face each other, and the Fremen — especially Jamis — are surprised to see that Paul is clearly the better fighter. Paul doesn't want to kill Jamis — he's never killed anyone before — but Fremen custom doesn't give him a choice. He finally deals Jamis a killing blow.

Off on Sandworms, We Ride

Paul killing Jamis is a major turning point for him for multiple reasons. The obvious change is that he's now killed someone, which would change anyone. He and his mother have now been welcomed more or less into Fremen society, something that's hinted at when he and Jessica join the Fremen in the walk toward their settlement. He's also finally met Chani, who — as his visions make clear — will become a major influence in his life.

Villeneuve shared during a roundtable /Film attended in September why he decided to end "Part One" at this point:

Where we end right now, I thought was the perfect way to feel ... we feel that Paul has a completed arc, as a character for the first part. His relationship with his mother, we feel that there's something that is not a closure but something relevant there, and to keep enough stuff for the second one.

I don't want to get to into what "stuff" from the book Villeneuve is referring to here, but let's just say that Paul and Lady Jessica still have quite the journey ahead of them.

Speaking of journeys, the last minutes of the movie also show something that's been hinted at earlier — the Fremen can ride sandworms. We see a sandworm track the Fremen party on foot and see a lone Fremen on top of said sandworm. This is important for many reasons. First off, it's very cool and a very, very cool thing to see on screen. Secondly, this shot of the Fremen on the sandworm foreshadows how the creatures will play an integral role in the second "Dune" movie (again, assuming Warner Bros. will greenlight it).

"Dune: Part One" is currently in theaters and on HBO Max.