Dune 2 ending explained: holy war, Chani's future, and how it sets up Part 3

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Dune: Part Two
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It's been a long wait for Dune 2 but finally it has arrived, with the Dune 2 ending in particular being something rather special. Following the release of the 2021 sci-fi epic Dune, audiences eagerly awaited news that a sequel would be given the greenlight as surely studio Warner Bros. Pictures would let director Denis Villeneuve complete his adaptation of author Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel. Thankfully it was quickly commissioned thanks to the first chapter being a huge success at the box office, but the follow-up was then hit with delays mainly due to the 2023 Hollywood strikes. Now though it has been unleashed onto the world to much critical acclaim already - for instance, our very own Dune: Part Two review gave it the full five stars.

An epic film like Dune: Part Two naturally has a jaw-dropping conclusion, but it may be one that has left you with questions – let's just say that plenty happens in this movie. Do not fear though, fear is the mind killer after all, as we have got you covered below with our Dune 2 ending explained, looking at everything from the holy war to Chani's future, and how it sets up a potential Part 3.

Naturally, huge spoilers lie ahead for Dune: Part Two so if you haven't seen the film yet, turn away now!

Dune 2 ending explained *spoilers*

Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Throughout the film, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) struggles with accepting the prophecy he is at the heart of, due to the haunting visions he has of a terrible future plagued by death. However, after House Harkonnen launch a successful attack on the Sietch Tabr, which was home to the Fremen community Paul has been spending time with, he is forced to journey south, somewhere he has long been avoiding due to the fact millions there believe he is indeed their messiah.

Once there, he consumes the Water of Life, a poisonous liquid drawn from young sandworms that is used by the Bene Gesserit to turn women into Reverend Mothers. Since the tradition's inception, it has only ever been consumed by women, with it being said that it would kill any man who attempted to drink it. However, there was one exception to that rule, a man known as the Kwisatz Haderach who is the result of the Bene Gesserit's long-running breeding program – he essentially would be the first male Bene Gesserit.

Upon drinking the liquid at first it appears that Paul has not survived the ritual, but it is then revealed that he has fallen into a coma. Against her wishes, Chani (Zendaya) is forced by his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) to reawaken Paul, as per the prophecy. He returns to the land of the living with more insight than ever before having seen visions of the past and future – this includes a moment with his sister Alia (Anya Taylor-Joy's cameo) and the realization that Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) is his maternal grandfather. When he asks Lady Jessica about this, she reveals she didn't know it herself until she became a Reverend Mother.

All of this plus the attack from the Harkonnens leads to Paul's acceptance of his fate. Declaring himself the messiah, known as the Lisan al Gaib, Paul assumes full control over the Fremen people, after he notably goes against their traditions and doesn't duel with leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem). At the end of the day, if they are heading into battle, they need all the strong fighters they can get.

Timothee Chalamet as Paul in Dune: Part Two

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

That's what comes next for Paul and the Fremen. He sends a challenge to the Emperor (Christopher Walken) who arrives on Arrakis, ready to confront not only Paul but the Harkonnens too for their failures. As the Emperor chastises the Baron and his family at a fortress in the city of Arrakeen, Paul launches his family's atomic warheads, causing much destruction. He and the Fremen then travel to the fort via sandworms, overpowering the Emperor's Sardaukar forces and breaching their defenses, invading the city. Notably, Paul's former teacher Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) kills a fleeing Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista), in a rematch we had been waiting for since 2021's Dune.

Once they have retaken the city, Paul and his followers enter the throne room, where he slaughters the Baron. As Paul kills him he calls the Baron "grandfather", just to make that death even more impactful. Reflecting on the moment, actor Skarsgård told GamesRadar+ in an interview: "I’m glad he’s dead! He had it coming! It’s a big scene and actually was the first time I met all the other actors. So, I just said hi to everybody then I got killed – and that was it [laughs]. It was an impressive cast during his death scene."

Having murdered the Baron, Paul turns his attention to the others in the room, asking for the Emperor and co. to be taken as prisoners. Everyone then assembles in the Residency, where Paul declares himself the Duke of Arrakis and threatens to destroy the planet's spice forever. He asks the Emperor to surrender the Imperial throne to him. However, the Baron's nephew Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler) challenges him to a duel. While he represents the Emperor in the battle Paul fights for himself, despite Gurney volunteering to be his champion. The combat is fierce but ultimately Paul defeats Feyd-Rautha by slaughtering him with a blade – this means he has now won the throne.

As a result, the Emperor's daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) offers her hand in marriage to Paul, asking him to leave her father alive. He accepts this but decides to humiliate the Emperor, asking him to kneel and kiss his House Atreides signet ring. A frustrated and upset Chani leaves the scene, heading out to the desert to go elsewhere. Meanwhile, Paul learns that the other Great Houses have refused to accept his new throne and so, a new battle begins – as he tells his Fremen fighters, he will "lead them to paradise". This means that the Muad'Dib's (his Fremen name) holy war is now beginning, as Jessica tells her unborn daughter Alia – also helpfully summarising the situation for audiences.

Where did Chani go?

Zendaya in Dune: Part Two

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The very final shot of Dune: Part Two is focused on Zendaya's character Chani, who director Denis Villeneuve described to GamesRadar+ as his "secret weapon" when telling this story. Throughout the movie she makes it clear that she doesn't believe that Paul is the messiah, instead insisting that the Fremen people should be led by one of their own. However, as the story concludes, she is increasingly alone in this thought, as more start believing in the prophecy.

Her frustration builds and builds, climaxing during the finale when Paul decides to marry Princess Irulan, despite telling Chani that he will love her as long as he breathes. Angered and upset, she leaves the room heading out into the sandy desert of Arrakis, where she prepares to mount a sandworm setting out on her own path. 

It is unclear exactly where she is going, but we can safely assume it will be somewhere in the desert that is far away from Paul and his new bride as she rejects his pursuit of power. However, since she is still deeply in love with him, our guess is that it won't be long until the two face each other again. In fact, during the closing moments Paul tells his mother Jessica that Chani will "come to understand... I've seen it" which seemingly foreshadows their reunion.

What happened with the other houses?

Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler in Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Before the final battle, Baron Harkonnen invites the other Great Houses to Arrakis, presumably thinking they will support him knowing that the Emperor is arriving to punish his family. As their ships arrive, Paul informs them that if they attack he will destroy the planet's spice supply – and since that is such a valuable asset, they do not.

After he takes the throne, the Great Houses refuse to accept his new role, with Paul's allies relaying that message to him – "refuse to honor your ascendency". In response he says that he is going to lead his people – the Fremen – "to paradise", meaning we can safely assume that he's now going to wage war against them.

What is the holy war?

Timothée Chalamet in Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

As mentioned above, the holy war has now started but you may be wondering, what exactly is the holy war? It's what Paul keeps seeing visions of throughout the film, those haunting images of people dying of starvation, his mother Jessica leading the way – it is indeed the Bene Gesserit's prophecy which she was spreading word of that has led to this point.

Essentially, Paul's victory at the end of the movie means he has won the battle but not the war. The Great Houses refuse to honor him as their new ruler and so they must be defeated too, with Paul sending his Fremen army into battle against them. This is all done in his name and they are fighting because they believe he is their savior – hence, a holy war. 

It seems that Paul is now unbothered by those terrifying visions and happy to welcome the death and destruction that is coming. He sees it as the "narrow way through" to get the revenge and power he is now so focused on – and it doesn't matter how much blood is shed on that path.

Will there be a Dune 3 and if so, what happens next?

florence pugh dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Dune 3 hasn't been given the green light yet, but given that it seems that the story is far from over and Part Two is tracking for a successful box office, we reckon it's likely to be commissioned very, very soon. Keep those eyes peeled then!

There are indeed plenty of storylines left to follow. Where does Chani go and how does she reunite with Paul? What comes of the holy war? Does Paul defeat the other Great Houses? What is his marriage with Princess Irulan like?

Of course, the answers to all these questions may lie in Frank Herbert's sequel novel Dune: Messiah, although it's worth noting that both 2021's Dune and Dune: Part Two have made significant tweaks. If you want to see into the future yourself and learn what happens next, here's our guide to Dune 3 and what we can learn from the books.

Dune: Part Two is in theaters worldwide now. For more, check out the rest of our coverage on the movie:  

Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.