This article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1.The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1 featured a beautiful scene in which Grogu saw a flock of purrgil – and here’s all viewers need to know about the beautiful space whales. When George Lucas created Star Wars, he knew he needed a way for starships to travel faster than light. Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, he came up with the idea of hyperspace; a mysterious dimension that ships could jump into to travel at phenomenal speeds. Viewers were first introduced to hyperspace through the Millennium Falcon in the first Star Wars movie, and most assumed it could only be accessed by vessels.
That surely meant many were as surprised and delighted as Grogu in The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1, when Grogu saw a flock of purrgil in hyperspace. Just as there are life-forms in space in Star Wars, so there are creatures capable of naturally jumping into hyperspace. They’re rarely seen, simply because most starships don’t allow their pilots (or co-pilots) the kind of 360-degree view given to Grogu in his station in Din Djarin’s N-1 Starfighter. But they’ve actually been part of Star Wars for years, and they’re an important part of galactic history.
What Are Purrgil, Star Wars’ Hyperspace Whales?
First introduced in the animated Star Wars Rebels TV series, the Purrgil are a semi-sentient species of space whales who use hyperspace to travel between the stars. They create their own tunnels through hyperspace (known as simu-tunnels), and their migration routes across the galaxy take them to worlds rich in a rare gas called Clouzon-36, which they consume. As beautiful as the purrgil may be, most navigators consider them hazardous; Din Djarin is fortunate his Naboo N-1 Starfighter didn’t get knocked out of hyperspace, because the creatures are blissfully unaware of the ships that travel faster-than-light.
Most purrgil are “only” the size of a small starship, but a subspecies known as Purrgil Ultra can be as large as an Imperial Star Destroyer. They typically travel in groups, and these have been referred to with a variety of names – flocks, swarms, or even pods. Each group is led by a so-called Purrgil King, a large typically male creature that appears to choose their direction of travel.
How Purrgil Travel Through Hyperspace
Hyperspace is still something of a mystery, even in the Star Wars universe itself, which means the nature of purrgil hyperspace travel is hotly debated. They are known to travel the Star Wars galaxy through hyperspace tunnels, called “simu-tunnels,” created when their bodies metabolize Clouzon-36 into hyperspace fuel. These simu-tunnels can bisect other hyperspace routes, and sometimes cross over major trading routes, meaning purrgil are a real navigational hazard. Fortunately, some sources have indicated the purrgil follow set migration routes, which means they can be avoided. Din Djarin clearly traveled a little too close to one of these migration routes in The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1.
Purrgil Inspired The Discovery Of Hyperspace In Star Wars
According to Star Wars Rebels, hyperspace was actually discovered by ancient engineers who observed purrgil in the depths of space, and rightly realized they were traveling through another dimensional plane. These ancients – potentially predating even the ancient Rakatan Empire from KotOR – must have lived in a system rich in Clouzon-36, and they presumably used it to create the first hyperfuel. Hyperspace is the key to traveling the galaxy, because it allows starships to travel from one corner of the galaxy to another in surprisingly short amounts of time. It would never have been discovered if not for the purrgils; science is simply following in nature’s footsteps, not the other way round.
Which Star Wars TV Episodes The Purrgil Have Appeared In
The purrgil first appeared in Star Wars Rebels season 2, episode 15, in the episode “The Call.” There, a group of rebels attempted to steal hyperfuel from the Mining Guild, only to cross paths with a flock of purrgil. Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger possessed a light side Force power allowing him to establish empathic bonds with creatures, and he was able to create a powerful connection to the purrgil, learning their true nature – and their feeding habits. The rebels shut down the Mining Guild operation, which had been stopping the purrgil feeding.
The purrgil returned in the Star Wars Rebels finale, with Ezra Bridger summoning them for help in a time of need. His homeworld Lothal was under attack by Imperial forces led by the Imperial warlord Grand Admiral Thrawn, and Ezra asked the purrgil to help him protect the planet; they jumped out of hyperspace, capturing Thrawn’s flagship, before vanishing with his vessel. Ezra, who was directing the attack from the flagship, was lost as well.
Other Star Wars Stories That Have Featured The Purrgil
They may have only appeared in a handful of episodes, but purrgil have been mentioned quite a few times in Star Wars lore. Leia’s adopted father Bail Organa mentioned them in the first episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ TV show, remembering how he’d dreamed of adventure traveling the stars following purrgil. A hologram of a purrgil can be seen in the Star Wars Squadrons game, and they’ve been name-dropped in novels and audiobooks including Cavan Scott’s Dooku: Jedi Lost, Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Life Debt, and Alex Segura’s Poe Dameron: Free Fall.
How The Purrgil Connect To Thrawn, Ezra & Star Wars’ Future
The unexpected glimpse of a purrgil swarm in The Mandalorian season 3, chapter 1, seems to be a sign of greater things to come. Star Wars Rebels‘ finale revealed Ezra Bridger’s friends Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren have never given up looking for her, and their quest to find their long-lost friend is continuing in The Mandalorian era. The Imperial warlord Grand Admiral Thrawn appears to have returned, and is believed to be the main villain behind an overarching story running through The Mandalorian and various other spinoffs set during the same Star Wars time period. Given that’s the case, it’s quite possible the purrgil will return – and Ahsoka Tano may well follow a purrgil migration route to find her way to her long-lost friend, Ezra.
Episodes of The Mandalorian season 3 release on Wednesdays on Disney+.