Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen the first three chapters of Star Wars – Ahsoka.

Ever wonder how hyperspace travel came about? How it is ships in the Star Wars universe can travel so quickly among the stars? Well, it turns out that many of the technologies surrounding hyperdrives were inspired by giant space whales called the purrgil. Yes, you heard that right, giant space whales.

Introduced for the first time in the Rebels TV show, the purrgil have since made live-action appearances in The Mandalorian and now, in far greater detail, Ahsoka. The whales have also shown up in numerous novels, most notably the High Republic series of books. But, until recently, not much was known about them except what they ate and that they could travel through hyperspace lanes called simu-tunnels.

Purrgil: A Mystery No Longer

Meeting the Purrgil for the first time

Used to be that hyperspace was something that didn’t have an explanation. It was taken for granted. Like the Force. Shrouded in mystery and mysticism, it just happened. And to many people, that was perfectly fine. After all, not everything needs an answer. But ever since midichlorians hit the big time, oversharing has become a Star Wars pastime. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before hyperspace got its close up.

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First seen in episode fifteen of Rebels season two, the purrgil show up mostly as a nuisance. They float around, preventing the crew from completing its mission. Indeed, were it not for Ezra Bridger’s affinity with animals, they might have turned into a swimming disaster. But thankfully for the Rebels, Ezra is able to communicate with the creatures, turning them from spectators to allies. And, with their aid, the crew is able to salvage a win and put a mining operation out of business.

Despite that debut, the purrgil would go unnoticed for another two seasons. Not until the ending of Rebels season four would they be seen. But what an appearance! The purrgil would become so instrumental in that final episode that it would take a return showing in Ahsoka to fully understand what they did. Yet, in the novels, the purrgil have already begun to shine, with their usefulness more fully fleshed out.

A Whale of a Time

A view of the space whales in hyperspace

In multiple High Republic novels (Quest for the Hidden City, Quest for Planet X, and Out of the Shadows), the purrgil are mentioned in relation to hyperspace travel. Whether it’s as the name of a ship, the boogie man in a space prospector’s tale, or as a backdrop to a location, their presence is known. Yet, it’s in Out of the Shadows that their impact is explained in practical terms.

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That’s where we learn about the nature of hyperspace and how the technology used to manipulate it has evolved. As we’re told, the origins began with prospectors studying the purrgil. The earliest mavericks based the concept of hyperspace lanes on natural phenomena. Areas where the purrgil congregated. And the earliest fuel for hyperdrives came from the gas (clouzon-36) that they consumed. In fact, many of the trading paths used during the High Republic — all the way to the present — were ones mapped out by the whales.

The Future of the Purrgil

The purrgil, as seen in Ahsoka

Of course, the purrgil aren’t alone in developing hyperspace. Jedi skills and ingenuity contributed. And, of course, plain old trial and error. But with so many places already mapped and with so many routes fully developed, what possible use could they have going forward?

Well, it turns out that the purrgil are also pretty handy when it comes to traveling from one galaxy to another. While it hasn’t been blatantly stated in Ahsoka, the inference is certainly there. The Path to Peridea is one that the space whales have taken before. And will, undoubtedly, take again. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eye of Sion has been programmed based on their migration. Or, perhaps, is being completed just in time to join the purrgil as they make the jump.

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Either way, the presence of the purrgil around Seatos isn’t a coincidence. And it isn’t a new phenomenon. They’ve been there before and — if Morgan Elsbeth is to be believed — so have the Nightsisters. So, when the reunion finally takes place between Ahsoka, Sabine, and Ezra, take a moment to thank the creatures who made it all possible — your neighborly, tentacled space whales, the purrgil.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

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