When we come back, Jessica is training Farad'n in the prana-bindu basics of the Weirding Way. Or, as I like to call it, The Weird Ballet. I'm not kidding, either. Apparently "prana-bindu" is Chakobsa for "Grand Jete." He still can't quite get the hang of things, however, and they both somehow end up crouched on the floor, their faces mere inches apart. "It would have been easier to begin this when you were younger," explains Jessica. Then she lights up a cigarette and starts taking off her stockings. Farad'n's face looks like one of his frat brothers just told him there's a drunk freshman passed out in the upstairs bedroom, but before things can get too hot and heavy, Sarandonia enters the room to throw cold water on the proceedings. Literally, in fact, as she sniffs the air a few times and announces that Farad'n needs a bath. Hee! He's crestfallen, but he leaves without saying a word, and our two female heavyweight best actress contenders finally go face-to-face for the first time. It's all bitch, bitch, bitch, catfight, catfight, catfight, and Alice Krige consistently acts circles around her unfairly better-known counterpart. Sarandonia finally gets down to the point, and suggests a marriage of convenience between Ghanima and Farad'n. "Worse things could happen than an alliance between old enemies," she smarms. "Your son was clever enough to see its potential once. Surely you can see the need for it now." Hmm. Now, let's see here. Jessica's son married Sarandonia's sister, so that makes her Jessica's daughter-in-law, right? And if Jessica's granddaughter (by the same son but via a different mother) then married Sarandonia's son, what would that make them? Oy. You know what? I've just given myself a serious headache.
Duncan, however, doesn't like the marriage idea at all, even though he's ostensibly a mentat and it's clearly the prime computation in these circumstances. You know, for a mentat, Duncan is actually pretty stupid when you stop and think about it. He got brainwashed by a dwarf, he almost killed his best friend and boss, and he married a schizophrenic slut with a Mercedes thopter and lots of pretty, pretty boys she calls priests. Not to mention the fact that he keeps dying all the time in the rest of the books. Instead of spending his remaining days living it up at the Hotel Bulgaria, however, Jessica convinces him to return to Arrakis and present the marriage proposal for Alia's approval. Poor Edward Atterton. First Sydney forgets all about him to go canoodle with Vaughn, and now this. He really needs a better agent.
Arrakis. Duncan has returned to Alia's palace office, which is now lit by an incredibly distracting Photoshop-filter lens flare which shines in through the open window behind her. It's hard not to like a scene that includes the words "myopic," "parochial," "precipice," and "probe," but if any scene could do it, it's this one. Alia eventually consents to allow preliminary negotiations for the marriage to commence, and then she dismisses the priests so that she can be alone with Duncan. The problem here is that she keeps missing her mark as she wanders around the room, so instead of being artfully silhouetted by the lens flare, she ends up almost invisible as the light glares off her metallic skirt. For God's sake, people, put some damn tape on the floor! It's not that difficult! She announces that she's decided to banish him to Sietch Tabr, so that her citizens won't have cause to question her ruthlessness. Um, okay. I'd think leaving him dead in a bathtub would do a much better job of that, but whatever. She also admits that she's missed him greatly, but then spoils it by doing that little downward glance to the left she does whenever she hears the voices in her head. Then she walks back over to the desk, missing her mark once again, and sends him out of her life forever.