The Spice

Dune: Prophecy Trailer Reveals The Sci-Fi Version of Game of Thrones

The first Dune TV series looks ambitious. And familiar.

Dune: Prophecy
Warner Bros
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Ever since Dune became an underground hit novel in the late 1960s, fans have wondered about how the saga might be rendered on screen. And, now, several film adaptations later, one persistent question continues to be floated: What if the larger story of the Dune mythos would be better served as a TV series, instead of a series of films? The first trailer for the upcoming Dune TV series — Dune: Prophecy — seems to answer this question with a big yes.

The backstory of Dune, specifically the machinations of the Bene Gesserit’s Missionaria Protectiva, is about to be fully realized as a TV series, a concept that very clearly shouldn’t be a movie.

Dune: Prophecy trailer

The new trailer — the first that has been revealed to the general public — establishes that this series will be sent 10,000 years before the birth of Paul Atreides, and focus on the various schemes of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. Indeed, while in development, the series was previously titled Dune: The Sisterhood, which later became Dune: Prophecy. What “Prophecy” does the show refer to? Well, as revealed in Dune: Part Two (and the original novels) the Bene Gesserit run a centuries-old project of seeding various planets with religious myth and dogma, which allows future generations of the Sisterhood to weaponize those beliefs into political convenience.

In other words, Paul and his mother are known as the “Lisan al Gaib” because the Bene Gesserit — who we’ll meet in Dune: Prophecy — planted that myth on Arrakis, 10,000 years prior.

Game of Thrones, Dune-style

Who will sit on the Throne of the Dune Imperium?

Warner Bros

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the first Dune: Prophecy trailer, is the way the show seems to be focused on how the Bene Gesserit are manipulating the power within the Imperium. In the trailer, we’re told that there will be a “Sister” on the throne, meaning that one of the Bene Gesserit members is entering into a political marriage, in order to be, in essence, Empress of the Universe. As played intensely by Emily Watson, Valya Harkonnen is at the center of all of this and seems to be taking the role of the Reverend Mother at this point in the timeline. Meanwhile, Mark Strong has a big presence in this trailer as Emperor Javicco Corrino, the ancestor of Shaddam Corrino from the time frame of the first book. The names might be familiar, but fans of the newer Dune movies should expect someone named “Harkonnen” and someone named “Corrino” might not, at this point in the timeline, be the kinds of folks we imagine. Harkonnens may not all be like the are in the films, and House Corrino may be rendered less conniving. The promise of Dune: Prophecy, in a way, is to subvert our expectations about these bloodlines and surprise us with how we might feel about each of the stereotypes of the Great Houses.

And, by fully embracing the feudal aspects of Dune’s politics, this next big sci-fi show from Max seems to be borrowing a strategy from the HBO playbook: If you’re going to do complex politics, with fantasy stakes, Game of Thrones is the easy comparison. And, because Dune basically invented a lot of the basic set-up for Game of Thrones, then having a Dune show feel like Westeros is like the genre coming full circle.

It’s unclear if Dune: Prophecy can become a crossover hit like the new Dune films, or like Game of Thrones. But based on this early glimpse, it certainly looks poised to try.

Dune: Prophecy will stream on Max in the fall of 2024.

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