Paul Atreides walking through the desert in Dune: Part Two | Agents of Fandom

‘Dune: Part Two’ Ending Explained – Where Does Paul Atreides Go From Here?

Dozens of possible futures full of both sorrow and tranquility lie ahead for Paul and Chani.

The sequel to the highly praised Dune has finally arrived, one that perfectly expands on an already captivating universe. Dune: Part Two is one of the most anticipated films of 2024, building on the success of its predecessor, which shocked the world with its breathtaking visuals and outstanding performances. Despite the film being packed with personal growth and conflict, the final act is vital in shaping the future of Paul and all that remains of House Atreides.

The characters in Dune: Part Two fight fierce challenges and unveil some harsh realities, particularly for Timothée Chalamet‘s Paul Atreides. However, its conclusion features a change in leadership and some heartbreaking betrayals. The final act of Dune: Part Two sets up the already highly awaited future installment into the sci-fi trilogy, Dune: Messiah, while also preparing for the long journey to stability and triumph on the desert planet of Arrakis.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Dune: Part Two and Frank Herbert’s Dune book series.

Paul Atreides Takes Down Emperor Shaddam

Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan dressed in her best gowns in Dune: Part Two | Agents of Fandom
Although having limited screen time, Florence Pugh dominates every scene. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The final moments of Dune: Part Two follow closely that of the novel, as Paul comes to terms with his destiny and confronts the city of Arrakeen. With the combined effort of the Fremen and sandworms, they take down the Harkonnens and Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken). Rather than succumbing to his vengeance, Paul holds mercy against him, spares Shaddam’s life, and takes the hand of Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), leaving some uncomfortable tension between him and Chani (Zendaya).

Paul uses this act of mercy to assert his authority in pronouncing that he is the true Duke of Arrakis, reclaiming the planet for the Fremen and himself. However, to achieve this, he must face the heir of the Harkonnens in a deadly duel to stake his claim as the Emperor and rule Arrakis alongside Princess Irulan. This final battle changes the political hierarchy in the Dune universe and showcases Paul’s strength and growth from the first to the second film.

The Fierce Battle Between Paul Atreides and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen fighting to the death in Dune: Part Two | Agents of Fandom
While Dune set the groundwork, Dune: Part Two gives a character-driven story even further than its predecessor. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

As Paul struggles with avenging his father’s death, his assassination of Shaddam IV is just one of the battles he faces in the final act. Wrestling with his inner demons, he kills Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler), reshaping the future of Arrakis. The conflict between the two fierce warriors is carefully developed throughout Dune: Part Two, as Feyd-Rautha’s power and strength grow evident in numerous clashes, particularly with his brother Rabban Harkonnen (Dave Bautista).

Yet, Paul’s victory against the Harkonnens marks only the beginning of the struggle. Just before his triumph against Feyd-Rautha, he instructs Gurney (Josh Brolin) to spread the news of the new reign to the Great Houses, only to face rejection after his victory. This results in the start of a war between the Atreides and the Great Houses.

This drastic declaration showcases the shift in Paul’s attitude between Dune and Dune: Part Two. He no longer fears death, and after drinking the Water of Life, Paul’s perspectives and priorities have changed. His obscured vision, clouded by the admiration of his followers and Chani’s ultimate destiny, binds him to a singular course of action as the savior of the universe.

What Transpires in the War for the Great Houses?

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica covered in a robe amongst other ladies in Dune: Part Two | Agents of Fandom
Rebecca Ferguson’s portrayal in Dune captivates with its depth, grace, and magnetic presence. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The war between the Great Houses takes place in the third book, Dune: Messiah, after the Great Houses refuse to accept Paul’s claim of the throne. The Great Houses are the ones who hold the true power in the Dune universe, divided into two; Houses Major and Houses Minor. 

In the closing sequence of Dune: Part Two, Gurney gives the unsettling news to Paul that the adversaries “refuse to honor your ascendancy.” In response, he orders them to “send them to paradise” igniting a brutal and devastating war. The conflict among the Great Houses chronicles the sacrifices required for true power and the complexities of the political landscape.

The Great House’s refusal to accept Paul’s ascendancy not only affects him personally but also holds significant consequences for the entire universe. While Feyd-Rautha is deemed the prominent threat to Paul, the true challenge lies within the disapproval of the Great Houses, as without their acceptance, the path to the throne remains obstructed.

Following Feyd-Rautha’s defeat, Lady Jessica tells Gaius (Charlotte Rampling) that she chose the wrong side. Gaius counters, suggesting there are no sides, indicating that the ultimate power rests with the Great Houses, a force the Fremen will struggle to overcome. If the direction of the third film adheres to the books’ narrative, it could detail the rise of the Fremen as the Atreides come to power. If it deviates entirely, the formidable strength of the Great Houses could conquer and triumph in the war.

Chani’s Shift in Perspective

Zendaya as Chani in Dune sat in her uniform against a rock | Agents of Fandom
Zendaya seamlessly embodies the enigmatic Chani, elevating the character to resonate long after the credits roll. Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The final act of Dune: Part Two exhibits the disapproval and parting of Chani from the battle and the fight ahead. Chani’s future is unclear on whom she will side with, and if she will take part at all, although earlier events in Dune: Part Two give an indication. Despite Paul’s heartfelt declaration, “I want you to know that I will love you as long as I breathe,” made before his battle with Feyd-Rautha, Chani appears unconvinced.

Without her dedicated support, Paul’s priorities may begin to shift to more selfish ambitions. However, if she can pull Paul out of his dark consumption and self-destruction, his impactful declaration of endearment could lead him to choose love over power. There is a reality in which he steps away from the War of the Great Houses, opting for a future with Chani and their children, bringing the end to the War and return of leadership to the Harkonnen’s.

Earlier in the film, during a conversation between Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and Paul, he exclaims “She’ll come to understand… I’ve seen it,” signaling that she will ultimately side with Paul, if it plans out how he has foreseen. It’s impossible to accurately predict exactly what will happen in Denis Villeneuve‘s adaptation of Frank Herbert‘s novels. However, given the deviations in the initial two installments, Chani’s future could either be destined for a life of tranquility or death.

What’s Coming for Paul Atreides?

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in a desert costume | Agents of Fandom
Timothée’s performance in Dune: Part Two is career-defining, paving a strong future. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

This newfound prominence and leadership for Paul doesn’t come lightly, and is a weighted burden, as depicted in the second book. In Dune: Messiah the intricacies of Paul’s character expand beyond his inner challenges, as he transitions from the hero to being labeled as a villain. Despite his noble intentions, Paul’s actions lead to consequences and moral dilemmas that blur the lines between right and wrong. 

His path to the throne is under constant pressure as the prophesized leader, and he is overwhelmed by adoration from his peers. However, years later, Chani’s death and the strain of being a leader take a toll on him. As Paul becomes increasingly aware of the implications of his power and position, he begins to undermine himself, ultimately turning into more of an antagonist than a savior. This self-sabotage shapes his subsequent choices and behaviors.

As the path of Chani remains undetermined, her future with Paul hangs in the balance. Should director Villeneuve stay true to the events of the novel, and she survives childbirth, her potential role could significantly influence Paul’s decisions. Perhaps with her support and guidance during these trying times, Paul may steer away from self-destructive tendencies and pursue an alternative path to ruling Arrakis, one that spares the lives of millions instead of sacrificing them.

The Future of House Atreides

Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen | Agents of Fandom
Austin Butler’s performance of Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is a standout as the main antagonist in Dune: Part Two. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Denis Villeneuve has teased and expressed his desire to turn the novels into a series of films, indicating a particular interest in a third film, Dune: Messiah. While this is yet to be green-lit by Warner Bros., the script is already in development, suggesting exciting prospects for the returning cast, Timothée Chalament, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, and Rebecca Ferguson.

The future of House Atreides is exposed with complexity, as Paul Atreides, now Emperor, grapples with his burdens and is faced with formidable challenges. The implications of Paul’s betrayal from Chani and the upcoming loss of millions of people casts a dark shadow, and whether the Atreides will emerge victorious or succumb to the strength of its enemies remains to be seen. Still, a hopeful future of power and strength is impending in the final Dune film by Denis Villeneuve.

Dune: Part Two is now playing in theaters worldwide. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest entertainment news and reviews.

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