Why The Hyperspace Whales Matter So Much in ‘The Mandalorian’

'The Mandalorian' Chapter 17 asks us to consider the past and the future of the 'Star Wars' franchise.
The Mandalorian Chapter The Apostate Purrgil

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry examines The Mandalorian Chapter 17 and the Purrgil star whales Grogu encounters during Hyperspace.

Whether you’re confused about how Din Djarin and Grogu reunited between The Mandalorian seasons two and three or not (surely, the Internet was loud enough this week, explaining those crucial Book of Boba Fett episodes), you must feel pretty good seeing them together. Our favorite Lone Wolf and Cub sci-fi pair are already dominating the galaxy with their cute factor, and no space pirate seems safe under their crosshairs.

If the third season’s premiere (aka Chapter 17) achieved anything, it was strumming our collective heartstrings. These bounty hunters belong as a unit. We’re glad the Lucasfilm crew came to their senses, even if they had to interrupt and distract from another Star Wars series in the process.

However, the reunion was not Chapter 17’s only achievement. Possibly the premiere’s most exceptional addition was a moment that lasted mere minutes and was told nearly in silence. As Din Djarin piloted his supped-up Naboo N-1 Starfighter away from the Armorer and toward Nevarro so he could collect and hopefully resurrect IG-11’s corpse, baby Grogu was chilling in his observatory spot. While Djarin is probably worrying his pretty little helmet off about the possibilities of bathing below the mines of Mandalore and reclaiming his Death Watch honor, the little one observes something that would freak out any Star Wars: Rebels obsessive.

Within hyperspace, cruising alongside them is a school of giant Purrgils. These shadowy behemoths were first introduced in the animated Rebels series and, as explained there, have a natural ability to travel at warp. They supposedly inspired other sentient species to technologically master faster-than-light travel. Rebels‘ Hera Syndulla, who we’re expected to see in the upcoming Star Wars: Ahsoka series and who has already cameoed in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, defined the Purrgils as pests, annoying beasts who would accidentally cause catastrophe when they collided with starships in hyperspace.

The Rebels‘ series finale was the last time we encountered them in the franchise. In that episode, Jedi Ezra Bridger bonded with the Purrgils through the Force. He encouraged them to join his fight against Grand Admiral Thrawn, and they smashed into his 7th fleet over Lothal, the Outer Rim planet. The beasts wrapped their tendrils around Thrawn’s ship and jumped to light speed, taking both Thrawn and Bridger with them.


Later on, in The Mandalorian Chapter 13, we learned Thrawn was still alive. Ahsoka Tano squeezed the information from Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth, and it’s easy to surmise why the fallen Jedi would want to direct her duel lightsabers to the Admiral’s throat. If Thrawn is out there causing turmoil, Ezra Bridger could be alive too.

Rebels concluded with Tano and her Mandalorian pal, Sabine Wren, pledging to find the young Jedi. While it’s certainly taken longer than they probably expected, we can hazard a good guess that the friends will make this mission also Star Wars: Ahsoka‘s seasonal mission. The Purrgils appearing in The Mandalorian Chapter 17 don’t confirm this to be the case, but it does remind us what’s happening in the greater Star Wars galaxy.

Ezra Bridger was Rebels‘ Grogu. In that, he was a youngling with a profound but precarious connection to the Force. Ezra, like Anakin, Luke, Rey, and maybe Grogu someday, felt the pull to the Dark Side. He struggled with anger, and there were times throughout Rebels when we would question where he would ultimately fall by the series’ end.

Such doubts speak directly to the human condition. We’re all capable of Dark Side actions. Also, choosing the Dark Side is not a permanent damnation. See Darth Vader’s turn in Return of the Jedi. Wherever we meet Ezra next, he could easily be a different version of the person we last saw. The anxiety around his live-action introduction is palpable amongst the fanbase.


None of this is on Din Djarin’s mind. Although, he is very much concerned with redemption. The Armorer rejecting his place amongst their clan because he revealed his face to Grogu is weighing heaving on him. The Mandalorian Chapter 17 opens with Djarin blasting his way back into their hearts, helping defeat a big lizardy beastie. Yet, his superior firepower gives him no leeway.

The Armorer reiterates that if he wants back into their group, he must bathe in the waters below Mandalore. Since Mandalore is cursed and supposedly toxic, reaching those waters is impossible. His redemption is even more so.

Of course, Djarin is not the type of guy to take no for an answer. Last season, former Mandalore ruler Bo-Katan Kryze told Djarin the rumors of their homeworld’s destruction were greatly exaggerated. They can reclaim it if they want. So, when Djarin cannot repair IG-11 easily, he seeks Bo-Katan. Now, she’s the one lacking drive.

The Mandalorian Chapter 17 ends with her sending Djarin out alone. She won’t leave her castle. Her pals have run off, and her desire to rule seemingly faded. Armed only with his kid and the Dark Saber, Djarin sets off to prove that his two Mandalorian superiors lack the faith they once desperately clung upon. He will show them the Way.

With every passing Star Wars entry, groupthink reveals itself as an inferior method. In The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano walked away from the Jedi. Rebels established a rebellion as a family of determined individuals. In The Last Jedi, Yoda obliterated the dusty tomes Luke held so sacred. The Bad Batch continues to spark singularity amongst its surviving clones. The Mandalorian establishes Djarin and Grogu as the only galactic critters worth a damn.

As Vader discovered in Return of the Jedi, and Andor did when that “Never More Than Twelve” bop dropped, accepting yourself as your only master will allow you to aid others outside yourself. Djarin’s quest to reclaim his place amongst the Watch will sharpen his individuality. As he’s already accepted his role as Grogu’s caretaker, he will acknowledge his strength apart from the family that raised him. His tiny green son is all he needs.

The Mandalorian Chapter 17 is now streaming on Disney+

Brad Gullickson: Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)