THE MANDALORIAN Brought STAR WARS REBELS’ Purrgil to Live-Action

Grogu looks out of Din's ship into blue hyperspace on The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian‘s season three premiere was a whale of a time. Specifically it was a space whale of a time. The episode featured one of Star Wars‘ most important creatures, the purrgil. Who are these giant, beautiful creatures? What makes them such a vital part of the franchise? And what does their appearance on The Mandalorian mean? Here’s everything we know about purrgil and what they mean to some important Jedi.

What Are Star Wars Giant Space Whales, the Purrgil?

Din Djarin's small ship flies by large purrgil on The Mandalorian

Purrgil are semi-sentient, large-headed animals who most closely resemble whales, but with some notable differences. Living in deep space, they have one cloudy blue eye on each side of their head. They also have four tentacles at the end of their long blue and purple bodies. Purrgil also sport fins that help them fly, while some also have long whiskers.

Despite their atypical habitat, the elegant creatures with oval-like teeth still require a specific, rare green gas to breathe. And without Clouzon-36, which they can locate on planets and moons, their bodies begin to turn brown and gray. But with Clouzon-36 (the same gas used as hyperdrive fuel) they’re able to “travel great distances” among the stars.

The crew of the Ghost jumping through space alongside a purrgil on Star Wars Rebels

The graceful but imposing creatures fly together in groups known as pods, flocks, or swarms. Pods can consist of up to 12 members, with the leader known as a King Purrgil. Most are the size of small ships, but a type known as Purrgil Ultra can grow far bigger.

Those behemoths can reach the equivalent in length of half an Imperial-class Star Destroyer. Based on their relative size to Din Djarin’s N-1 Starfighter, Grogu likely spotted Purrgil Ultras flying through hyperspace in their very own simu-tunnel. Purrgil are not only capable of traveling at hyper speeds, though. They’re said to have inspired humanoids own hyperspace aspirations.

Why Are Purrgil Both Hated and Revered?

Ezra Bridger in a helmet holds his lightsaber while riding atop a purrgil in a pod on Star Wars Rebels

Purrgil are no strangers to the smugglers, pirates, pilots, and other travelers of the galaxy far, far away. Hera Syndulla called the animals “dangerous” because of their proclivity to wander into hyperspace lanes. Many beings have lost their lives in crashes with purrgil. But it’s unlikely the space whales intentionally cause those incidents even though they have a type of intelligence unto themselves. Purrgil are not immune to injury, and pilots hunted down and killed many of the animals to make high speed interstellar travel safer.

But others believe the entire galaxy owes a debt to purrgil. Some believe the creatures’ natural ability to travel through hyperspace served as a guide for sentient races to learn the ways of moving faster than the speed of light. Without purrgil, travel between star systems might still be impossible in the galaxy. It’s why some of the first hyperspace ships were named for purrgil. Their simu-tunnels were precursors to the very hyperspace lanes they wander into.

The study of purrgil brains and bodies even led both Jedi and Sith alike to creating wayfinders. Those ancient relics, which proved so important in The Rise of Skywalker, allowed Force users to navigate especially difficult expanses of space.

Where Have Purrgil Appeared in Star Wars Before?

Though mentioned in some Star Wars publishing, most purrgil appearances thus far happened on Star Wars Rebels. The mystical space whales made a big impression during their debut on the animated series, too. Despite Hera’s fears about the creatures, Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger and Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus persuaded the crew of the Ghost to follow the purrgil. During an ensuing battle with a Clouzon-36 gas refinery under Imperial control, a purrgil saved Ezra’s life. He then saw a vision in the animal’s eye, forming a strong magical connection between the two. Ezra then rode the purrgil as it helped the Ghost take the much needed gas.

While the otherwise serene purrgil appeared on the show multiple times, their most important moment came during the show’s finale and the Ghost‘s greatest time of need.

How Did Purrgil Help Ezra Bridger Stop Grand Admiral Thrawn?

Two large purrgil attack an Imperial ship on Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels ended with the denizens of Lothal trying to free the planet of Imperial control. Without a fleet of its own to match the one Grand Admiral Thrawn commanded, Ezra Bridger and his friends needed help. For that they turned to the purrgil, which they summoned to fight with them for a surprise attack. The space whales worked with the Ghost to destroy many of the Imperial ships serving as a blockade.

But with Thrawn around, Lothal would never have been safe, which is why Ezra Bridger had concocted a secret plan to sacrifice himself, saving his friends and his planet. He used the Force to make three Purrgil Ultra attack Thrawn and his ship. The animals took hold of the Grand Admiral and jumped into hyperspace, taking both Thrawn and Ezra with them to an unknown region of the galaxy.

A purrgil tentacle wrapped around Thrawn on Star Wars Rebels

In Star Wars Rebels‘ final scene Sabine Wren and Ahsoka Tano set out to find Ezra, whose whereabouts remain unknown during the era of The Mandalorian.

What Is the Significance of Purrgil Appearing on The Mandalorian?

There are two likely reasons purrgil debuted on The Mandalorian, and they are not mutually exclusive. The first is that it this was a way to establish yet another connection between the show and Ezra Bridger. When Rosario Dawson first brought Ahsoka Tano to live-action on The Mandalorian she was seeking information about the location of Thrawn. She has not given up hope of finding her friend Ezra. Dawson will soon continue that hunt, along with surviving members of the Ghost, on her own spinoff series Ahsoka.

THE MANDALORIAN Brought an Important STAR WARS Creature to Live-Action_1

Some of that show’s story could take place on The Mandalorian. Lucasfilm is not shy about having their shows’ plots overlap in significant ways. But at minimum Grogu spotting purrgil in hyperspace is an Easter egg that also serves as a nod to another upcoming entry in Star Wars.

But the sight of purrgil might ultimately prove far more important to The Mandalorian‘s little green star. We know from Ezra Bridger’s experiences with those magical animals that they have a special connection with Force users. And since they’re rarely spotted traveling at hyperspeed, it’s significant a powerful little Jedi saw them flying alongside him.

When Will Purrgil Appear in Star Wars Again?

POV from a ship watched a pod of purrgil fly in space on Star Wars Rebels

Will Grogu eventually meet them and become friends with the purrgil? Will they bring Ezra Bridger back to the franchise so he can meet a fellow young Jedi? Might those beautiful tentacled beings who travel among the stars fight alongside Grogu and save Mandalore the way they saved Lothal? Or was this merely a small tribute to appreciate one of the franchise’s most important creatures?

Seeing purrgil flying for even just a brief moment on The Mandalorian raises a million possibilities for what role they may play on multiple Star Wars shows. But if nothing else it gave us a chance to talk about purrgil, who made travel throughout the galaxy far, far away possible long before any ship came with a hyperdrive.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at  @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.