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How The Dune Sisterhood Spinoff Can Still Use A Major Jessica Twist
09-25-2022, 08:45 AM
How The Dune Sisterhood Spinoff Can Still Use A Major Jessica Twist
The prequel spinoff of Denis Villeneuve's Dune, HBO's Dune: The Sisterhood, can still execute a huge book twist that didn't make the final cut for the first film, or set the stage for the twist to happen in Dune: Part Two. While the sequel will simply pick up from where the first movie ended, not much has been revealed about the plot of Dune: The Sisterhood, apart from how it will center on the lives of the Bene Gesserit. A proto-religious sisterhood composed of geneticists and political scientists, the Bene Gesserit sisters seek the ascension of the human race through the advent of the Kwisatz Haderach. This means that Dune: The Sisterhood could reveal the missing twist in Paul Atreides' visions in Dune.

In the original novel by Frank Herbert, Paul gets prophetic visions in the desert, just like in the movie. While the movie showed Paul's visions of the Fremen jihad, his and Chani's future, and many other signs of Paul's developing omniscience, Villeneuve left out the biggest reveal at this stage in the book. This reveal could come either in Dune: The Sisterhood or in Dune: Part Two.

Dune's missing twist is that Paul, through his visions, learns his mother Jessica is actually the daughter of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the man responsible for the fall of House Atreides. This is all part of the Bene Gesserit's centuries-long schemes to breed the Kwisatz Haderach into existence, which was supposed to be the son of Lady Jessica's daughter and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, according to the sisterhood's breeding program. Believing she could birth the Kwisatz Haderach herself, Jessica used her prana-bindu Bene Gesserit training to bear a son instead of a daughter to Duke Leto. In the book, this is meant to reveal Jessica's ambition and give readers a glimpse into the complexity of the Bene Gesserit's long-term plans.

Why Jessica's Harkonnen Twist Was Cut From Dune

While its placement was perfect in the book, the twist about Jessica being a Harkonnen may work better in the live-action adaptation if it happens in Dune: The Sisterhood or Dune: Part Two. This is because Dune, which was cut down to just a 2-hour and 30-minute film, could scarcely accommodate all the pertinent details of the first half of the book. Including Jessica's Harkonnen heritage twist would've buried the headline under the world-building that Dune had to do in order to establish its thematic roots and overarching plot.

Thanks to the first movie, Dune: The Sisterhood and Dune 2 won't need to do as much foundational world-building, which means more space for executing twists in a manner that makes more sense for the live-action adaptation. Indeed, Dune's changes to the book are intended to emulate the source material as faithfully as possible, but without being bogged down by the prose of one of the most detail-oriented political sci-fi novels of all time. There's nothing wrong with Frank Herbert's prose, but a verbatim screen adaptation of his first book would entail over 12 hours of film. This is essentially why Denis Villeneuve intends to turn his Dune reboot into a full film trilogy, which allows the novel's most crucial plot points to be more evenly spaced out across the reboot's entire narrative. Like every director before him, Villeneuve had to change many parts of the book in order to arrive at a truly worthwhile and faithful movie adaptation.

Will The Bene Gesserit Be A Focus Of Dune: The Sisterhood?

As Dune: The Sisterhood is bound to come out before Dune: Part Two, the series could provide some much-needed context about the Bene Gesserit that Dune didn't get to tackle. Relative to the established timeline of Villeneuve's Dune, the events in Dune: The Sisterhood will occur before the first movie. Apart from revealing how the sisters train in the Bene Gesserit way, Dune: The Sisterhood will probably reveal more about how the faction orchestrated the fall of House Atreides on Arrakis. It could also explore how the Bene Gesserit pulls the strings of House Corrino, House Harkonnen, and the other noble houses in Dune.

Dune: The Sisterhood may also look into the Missionaria Protectiva, the Bene Gesserit's "black arm of superstition," which sows prophecy across primitive planets for controlling the local population. This could tie into the events of Dune 2, which will be based on the second half of the novel, in which Jessica becomes the Reverend Mother to the Fremen of Sietch Tabr, part of the Missionaria Protectiva's schemes. Moreover, Dune: The Sisterhood will be the first series dedicated to the Bene Gesserit, a fictional proto-religious political organization of martial artists that predate and partly inspired Star Wars' Sith and Jedi. Apart from pulling off Jessica's Harkonnen twist with the gravitas that it deserves, Dune: The Sisterhood can also give viewers a much closer look at just how influential Frank Herbert's masterpiece truly is.


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