Fade up on that famous picture of Arrakis, with Princess Irulan repeating the closing lines from last night's installment. From there we dissolve to a butterfly, emerging from its chrysalis into the warm orange desert. Gee, I wonder if that's supposed to be symbolic? The butterfly flaps its wings a few times (no doubt causing a thunderstorm of anvils to break out on Caladan), and flies over to land beside young Leto "Almost Ephram From Everwood" Atreides II. Hmm. Perhaps Sars should have watched after all. Be sure to take note of the Fabio-worthy, Harlequin-romance-cover silk puffy shirt he's wearing, because it may very well be the last time you'll ever see the boy with his top on. And who the hell wears leather pants in the desert? That's really got to chafe. He flashes into the same vision of Jacurutu that plagued his father, only this time we see the events from Leto's perspective, as Dad warns him of the dangers of the Golden Path. Is Paul petulant? Possibly. Portentous? Probably. Leto is interrupted by a whisper from his twin sister Ghanima, and if I'd known she was going to be this cute, I never would have gotten so upset about them making the kids significantly older than they were in the books. Chicks in the future are hot, yo! Even if they do still crimp their hair like it's 1986.
Ghanima moves to join her brother on the rocky outcropping where he's been indulging his interest in entomology, and we get the first of many Flowers in the Sietch moments as she holds his hand and caresses his upper thigh. Hey! Watch where you put those hands, girl! This is basic cable, not the West Virginia Spice Channel. Leto describes his visions, including, as he says, the fact that "my skin was not my own." Ghanima worries about what it all might mean, complete with some foreshadowing about the recent changes in Alia, and even some exposition about Grandma Jessica's upcoming visit to Arrakis. Then they kiss. No, not like that. Suddenly a swarm of thopters appears over the plain beneath them, and Irulan emerges from a cave to tell them it's time to return to Arrakeen.
Just like any young teenager with a learner's permit and an imperial-sized sense of entitlement, Leto gets to fly his own thopter. Ghanima rides beside him in the co-pilot's seat, with Irulan in the back trying to coach them on how to behave with their Bene Gesserit grandmother. As a sample of how thick the exposition gets laid on in this scene, Irulan is actually forced to swallow dialogue like, "And you of course know [your father's habits] intuitively, don't you? Just like you knew how to fly without any training." Well, at least she's swallowing something. I hope it had a lot of carbs. Leto spots wormsign on the horizon, and throws the thopter into a fancy Immelman maneuver to come down directly on top of it. Irulan, much like my mother, is clearly a nervous flier, and Leto is forced to remind her of her own Bene Gesserit training. "Fear is the mind-killer," he tells her, with Ghanima opining that "I think she's about to let it pass through her." Hee! There's nothing funnier than a fear-litany joke. Except, of course, for what happens next. Yes, that's right. Not one, not two, but three sandworms emerge from the desert, to hover and roar in the air just inches away from the thopter. The hell? I thought Leto couldn't control the worms until he, you know, turned into one of them. They hang there in the thopter, gazing at the admittedly impressive Sarlac-like gullets of the worms, until one of them dives back down and comes up directly underneath the thopter. We get our second Star Wars shout-out in as many seconds as the creature swallows them whole, with Leto waiting until just the right moment to kick on the afterburners and fly right out of the worm's mouth. Han Solo would have been very proud. He would not, however, have blessed The Maker and his passing, which is what Leto does as he turns the thopter back towards Arrakeen. It seems that, like Judaism, the Fremen religion is inherited from the mother.
Tonight's credits feature still more sweeping views of Arrakeen, but I'm actually kind of disappointed by the size of the Keep. It's big, but not big enough to fit the five largest cities in the universe inside, which is how Herbert described it. And those Oscar statues on the big Aztec-looking building are nothing if not cheesy. Insert your own "but could Michael Moore fit inside The Keep?" joke here. Inside, Alia lies sprawled on the floor, trapped by spice visions and the odd feather boa she's chosen to wrap around her neck. Duncan finds her there, still babbling about her inability to see the future, and he gently carries her to the bed like any good enabler would when he finds his spouse high on the drug of her choice. Alia, more than anything else, is worried about Jessica's impending visit, because "no Bene Gesserit acts without preordained plans, and well-planned deceit." There's a quick throwaway line to indicate that these two are now married, and then the scene ends just as my television's prettiness regulator was starting to sputter and spark.