Star Wars: What Is a Purrgil and the Connection to Ezra Bridger, Thrawn, and Ahsoka Explained

The Mandalorian season 3 brings hyperspace whales to live action. What does the arrival of purrgil mean for the future of Star Wars TV series?

Purrgil in Star Wars Rebels
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 3.

The Mandalorian season 3 has finally kicked off. Din Djarin and Grogu are back together after their adventures in The Book of Boba Fett and off on a new quest. They’re done looking for Jedi, though. This time, the journey is all about getting back to Mandalore so that Din can complete a ritual that will allow him to get back into his clan. Turns out the Armorer is really serious about Mandalorians never taking off their helmets, and Din’s been excommunicated for doing so in season 2.

In classic Mando fashion, the bounty hunter needs to complete a few side quests before he can actually head off to Mandalore. Next stop after a quick visit to the Armorer in the season 3 premiere, “The Apostate,” is Nevarro to see Greef Karga about a droid. Specifically a certain assassin droid designated IG-11. Remember him? Mando needs the reprogrammed “nurse” droid to help him protect Grogu as they navigate the dangerous wastelands of Mandalore.

But on their way to Nevarro, Grogu and viewers first spot something very interesting in hyperspace. Eagle-eyed Star Wars fans will of course recognize the “space whales” flying alongside Mando’s Naboo N-1 Starfighter in hyperspace as adorable, space-faring purrgil.

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First introduced in the Rebels animated series, these starship-sized creatures live in deep space, traveling across the galaxy through hyperspace routes. They not only have the ability to travel at lightspeed but also navigate hyperspace without crashing into planets, moons, or stars. That said, purrgil have been the cause of ship accidents in space, like when a vessel accidentally collides with one while in lightspeed.

At first glance, the appearance of purrgil in The Mandalorian might just seem like a fun bit of worldbuilding, a cool visual easter egg for live-action, but there’s a little more to this Star Wars reference than that. After all, purrgil are very much connected to Ahsoka Tano’s own story in the post-Return of the Jedi timeline and her search for Grand Admiral Thrawn and presumably the missing Jedi Ezra Bridger.

As Rebels fans know, purrgil are actually the reason Thrawn and Ezra disappeared from the known galaxy at the end of the animated series. Ezra, who is able to connect and communicate with purrgil as well as other animals through the Force, uses these creatures to defeat Thrawn’s fleet during the Battle of Lothal in the days just before the start of the Original Trilogy. In order to remove the Imperial fleet from the battlefield, Ezra has the purrgil wrap their tentacles around the ships and send them into hyperspace to parts unknown. Since Ezra was on Thrawn’s Star Destroyer when purrgil attacked, effectively sacrificing himself to save his home planet, he disappeared along with the villain, not to be seen again during the Galactic Civil War.

But we do know we’ll be seeing Ezra and Thrawn again during the Mandoverse saga. In The Mandalorian season 2, we learned Ahsoka was still looking for Thrawn, and since Rebels ended with Ahsoka and Mandalorian rebel Sabine Wren vowing to find Ezra wherever he may be, we know she’s trying to track down the Grand Admiral in order to find her fellow Jedi. In fact, Ezra’s already been cast for the upcoming Ahsoka series, where he’ll be played by Eman Esfandi (King Richard). So it’s all but confirmed he’ll eventually return to the galaxy far, far away.

Whether the appearance of purrgil on The Mandalorian season 3 is just a nod to that future quest, or meant to set up Ezra’s live-action debut (is he using the purrgil to watch over Grogu?!), remains to be seen. Either way, the scene is a nice reminder that all these stories are constantly in communication with each other and creating interesting connections. We’ll see where these purrgil lead soon enough.

The Mandalorian season 3 streams on Wednesdays on Disney+.

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