For a series that inspired so much of what “Star Wars” would ultimately become, is it really much of a surprise that “Dune” would introduce its own Emperor pulling the strings in the background? The 2021 “Dune” adaptation kept the political figurehead entirely off-screen, instead choosing to have characters like Stellan Skarsgård’s Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and others only speak of the Emperor in hushed tones. The closest we got to any sort of background information on the character came from the brief interlude set on the prison planet of Salusa Secundus, which housed the Emperor’s elite army of Sardaukar soldiers that the Harkonnens would later use to invade Arrakis and stage a coup to overthrow Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), his heir Paul (Timothée Chalamet), and their entire House.
But finally, we’re set to expand the perspective of the story in a huge shift during the sequel — chiefly through the eyes of the Emperor’s enigmatic daughter, the Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh). We previously wrote about just how important Irulan will be throughout this next part of Paul’s journey, which appears to be taking a much darker (and book-accurate) tone now that he’s become accepted into the Fremen clan of indigenous people on Arrakis and priming to strike back at the usurpers who’ve taken control of the planet. But a major obstacle in the path of Paul’s fight for freedom remains the Emperor, who’s clearly playing the long game by manipulating the most powerful Houses under his regime against each other and provoking outright war. Is this part of some evil master plan to strike specifically against House Atreides, a desperate power play to maintain his seat, or something else entirely? We’ll surely find out soon enough.