The Dune Sequel: What Comes After Part One?

The coming of the cinematic messiah that is filmmaker Denis Villeneuve's new version of "Dune" is upon us. While the film naturally takes some liberties with Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi novel, it is a far more reverent take on the material than David Lynch's failed 1984 attempt. This new movie shows us scenes, themes, and even whole planets from the classic tome that had previously been unexplored on the silver screen.

Of course, if you've seen the movie by now, you know that it starts with the title card "Dune: Part One," meaning that the story you see unfold in the two-and-a-half-hour runtime is only half of the whole tale. While we await the box office returns that will determine whether or not Warner Bros. and Legendary pull the trigger on "Dune: Part Two" (which is all ready to go), here's what you might expect from the sequel given what happens in the actual book. 

Beware heavy potential spoilers "Dune: Part Two!"

Taking the Mantle of Leader

About two-thirds of the way through "Dune: Part One," the Harkonnen family led by Rabban takes control of Arrakis back from the Atreides family in explosively violent fashion. This leaves Paul and Jessica stranded in the deserts of Arrakis unable to return to their home world of Caladan, but by the end Paul is unwilling to flee the planet as he has sensed that his place is with the Fremen people. 

Now that he has vanquished Jamis, Paul is positioned through his act of bravery — as well as the seeding of false messiah myths by the Bene Gesserit — to take a leadership position within the tribes of the Fremen. Paul will become known as Muad'Dib (the name of the small mouse seen in "Part One") or Usul, and form an alliance with Stilgar to teach the Fremen people the Weirding Way, thus making them the most formidable fighting force in the known universe. Jessica will also take over as the spiritual leader of the Fremen from Reverend Mother Ramallo, gaining all of her knowledge (think The Three-Eyed Raven from "Game of Thrones") once she transmutes the Water of Life (bile from a baby sandworm placed in water). Paul's powers will also grow when he drinks the Water of Life, as will his ability through environmental subterfuge to potentially turn the planet Arrakis into a tropical paradise ... making it inhospitable to worms, thus grinding spice production to a permanent halt. 

Among the Fremen people he will also take on not one, but two women. Jamis' wife Harah will become a customary wife/servant to Paul and he in turn is responsible for raising her children Kaleff and Orlop. Meanwhile Chani will become Paul's lover/concubine and warrior companion, remaining a leader among her people. It will also be explained that the now-deceased character of Dr. Liet-Kynes (played by a woman in this version) was the mother of Chani, thus bonding her and Paul further as they have both lost a parent.

The Battle Against the Harkonnens

While it was only hinted at in the matching red hair of Jessica and the Harkonnen family in the 1984 "Dune," the book makes something very clear: The Lady Jessica is Baron Harkonnen's daughter. Yes, that means that Paul Atreides is the grandson of the bad guy. Sound familiar? Because this twist was so similar to "The Empire Strikes Back," it was left unmentioned in Lynch's version, but will Villeneuve go there? He left all the Harkonnen's bald in "Part One" possibly to make it even more of a revelation in "Part Two." 

Speaking of Harkonnen's, there are several major villainous characters we never got to meet in "Part One," namely Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, Princess Irulan, Feyd-Rautha, Iakin Nefud, or any members of the Spacing Guild. The fish-like Guild Navigator seen at the beginning of Lynch's film was not actually seen until "Dune Messiah" in the book timeline, so we may not get a cool "folding space" scene.

One major bad guy character in the book was left out of David Lynch's 1984 film completely: Count Hasimir Fenring, the Emperor's eunuch emissary and occasional assassin. This sneaky character plays a critical role in hiding the Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis from the rest of the galaxy, and in assessing Feyd for the potential of his bloodline. So impressed is he with the young Harkonnen that he allows his wife Lady Margot Fenring (herself a Bene Gesserit) to conceive a child with Feyd. Towards the end of the book when the Emperor's forces are easily laid waste by Paul and the Fremen, Shaddam attempts to convince Fenring to take Paul out, but the Count is unwilling to do so because he believes Paul to be the prophesied Kwisatz Haderach, and seeing as he himself was a botched attempt at attaining said superbeing, he feels a kinship with Paul.

We get a small sampler of what that battle could look like in a prophetic vision Paul has in the tent while he and his mother are exiled to the desert during "Dune: Part One." In the vision we see a blue-eyed Paul clad in golden armor fighting a bloody battle against the Emperor's Sardaukar troops alongside similarly armored Fremen. Paul wakes up and fears the jihad he may be about to unleash across the universe, and the loss of life that will take place in his name. If these battles come to be in "Part Two," expect the fighting to be far crazier and more expansive, including Fremen battling Sardaukar while riding giant sandworms, and using the Bene Gesserit martial art known as the Weirding Way. The latter fighting style was considered too unwieldy for the Lynch film, which substituted it with sonic guns called "Weirding Modules." 

The Women's Story

While Zendaya's Chani is the opening narrator and present throughout the new "Dune," she merely appears in fleeting flash-forward visions and in the flesh towards the end, aiding Paul before his battle with Jamis. Villeneuve has previously said that Chani will be of utmost importance in "Dune: Part Two," unlike Sean Young's sadly simplified part in the original '84 version:

"I am honored to present two such explosive talents on screen [Chalamet and Zendaya] and I can't wait to shoot the second part of Dune to get them back together. Knowing that in the next chapter Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story."

In fact it is the women of "Dune" that play such a critical role in the unfolding tale. Jessica will give birth to Alia and become the new reverend mother of the Fremen. Alia will be born with prodigious powers making her something of a freak, but she eventually wins over the Fremen and is responsible for murdering her grandfather, Baron Harkonnen. Chani will bear her and Paul's first child, Leto II, who is later killed in a raid, but will remain an important figure in Paul's life and the Atreides bloodline in "Dune Messiah." While Chani's status as Paul's concubine remains after he agrees to marry Princess Irulan in a marriage of convenience to ascend as Emperor, Paul refuses to lay with the Princess, telling Chani that she will in fact be his true wife and companion. Irulan will, despite some attempted treachery of her own in the second book, merely be sidelined as Paul's literary chronicler. The very last line of Herbert's book (shot for Lynch's film and included among the deleted scenes) is both a testament to the power of women in the story as well as the sheer malleability of history:

"We who carry the name of concubine – history will call us wives."