Wild Dune 3 Theory Could Solve the Dune 2 Trailer's Biggest Mystery

We’re calling it now.

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By the end of Dune: Part Two, Denis Villeneuve will have told the entire story of what happens in Frank Herbert’s beloved 1965 novel. But what if the ending of this film teases a third Dune movie? The answer may lie in one of the major absences in the Dune: Part Two trailer.

The trailer introduced the saga’s most tantalizing new characters, including Florence Pugh’s Princess Irulan, Léa Seydoux’s Lady Margot Fenring, and Austin Butler’s villainous Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. But there were two key absences from the trailer: Christopher Walken’s Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, and Tim Blake Nelson.

Although we know Tim Blake Nelson will play some kind of role in Dune: Part Two, the exact nature of that role has yet to be revealed. Initially, the good money for this role seemed to be on Count Fenring, husband to Lady Margot Fenring. However, because Nelson’s character hasn’t been revealed, it lends credence to the growing theory that he’s not playing Count Fenring as originally speculated (with Lady Margot’s larger role, it’s highly plausible that her character is a combination of both Fenrings) but a character named Scytale, a member of the Bene Tleilax.

Why is this important? Because it could set up a huge character comeback moment — and ramp up excitement for a possible Dune 3.

Spoilers ahead for the first two Dune books.

Dune 2’s big mystery role could set up a key plot for Dune 3

Where is Tim Blake Nelson in Dune? The answer may be more complicated than we think.

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Since 2021 Villeneuve has made it clear he’d like to adapt the second book, Dune Messiah, and thus, make a trilogy of Dune movies. And if that is still the plan, then Villeneuve could very well set up the plot of his third Dune film in Dune: Part Two.

Dune Messiah was published in 1969, four years after the first, and is a direct sequel that picks up 12 years after the ending of the first novel. But one major event happens within the chronology of the first book, though is not fully revealed until the second book: the moment when the Bene Tleilax retrieves the body of Duncan Idaho in order to bring him back to life as a kind of clone called a ghola. That’s right, in Dune Messiah, Duncan Idaho — as played by Jason Momoa in Dune: Part One — comes back from the dead as a strange doppelgänger initially named “Hayt,” and sporting creepy metallic eyes.

In the books, the notion of the Tleilaxu, and their abilities to create gholas, and sometimes become shapeshifters called “face dancers,” are all new elements introduced in Messiah and never once mentioned in the first novel. In other words, Herbert does not set up the method for Duncan’s resurrection in the first book, resulting in nearly everything about the Bene Tleilax, and one specific member of the group, Scytale, to scan as a mild retcon. In fact, Herbert brought back Duncan because the character was popular with his readers, and there’s no clear proof he planned to bring back Duncan all along. (Shades of George Lucas’ patchwork masterplan for the classic Star Wars trilogy).

This is where Tim Blake Nelson comes in. If Nelson is playing Scytale, he will directly be responsible for bringing Duncan back as a ghola.

What the return of Duncan means for Dune 3

Paul and Duncan in Dune: Part One.

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The resurrection of Duncan is a major turning point in the Dune saga, one which eventually leads to numerous Duncan clones, all of whom exist through 18,000 years of Dune history, up to the sixth book, Chapterhouse: Dune. Basically, after Duncan comes back to life, he becomes the most important character in the original Frank Herbert Dune saga. And, because the Bene Tleilax snags Duncan’s body during the events of the first Dune, it makes a lot of sense that Dune: Part Two, could reveal this moment at some point, perhaps even in a shocking post-credits sequence. Picture it: Paul becomes Emperor. The credits roll. Then, Jason Momoa emerges from an axolotl tank, complete with his metal eyes. It’s such a cool, perfect way to tease the possibility of Dune Messiah, it almost feels nuts if it doesn’t happen.

There’s even more evidence that this reveal will happen: Jason Momoa has been hinting at his possible return for almost two years. In 2021, he told Fatherly that when he was cast he had “an initial conversation,” with Villeneuve about his comeback, but that nothing was concrete yet. But, by 2022, Momoa pointed out to GQ that if people “continue reading,” the spoiler of his return is pretty obvious.

Even if a film version of Dune Messiah never happens, the potential for more Dune adaptations with Jason Momoa is probably very appealing to both fans and mainstream fans of Momoa alike. In the real world, and the far future of Dune, the return of Duncan Idaho is coming. It’s just a matter of when.

Dune: Part Two hits theaters on November 3, 2023.

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