Purrgil? Star Wars Space Whales Are Rewriting Hyperspace Canon
Ahsoka just retconned why and how to punch it.
When Han Solo yells “Punch it,” maybe, what he’s unknowingly saying is: “Let’s follow hyperspace routes established by space whales a millennia ago.” In the third episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka, we learn that hyperspace routes between galaxies were, perhaps, established by people in spaceships following the example of purrgil (aka, space whales).
But the bigger question is: Does the history of purrgil rewrite the way faster-than-light travel works in Star Wars? One reading of Ahsoka’s latest episode, “Time to Fly,” could mean everything we’ve known about hyperspace, up until this point, has been incomplete.
Spoilers for Ahsoka Episode 3 ahead.
What are the Purrgil in Star Wars?
As Huyang (David Tennant) hastily explains: “The Jedi archives speak of intergalactic hyperspace lanes between galaxies which used to follow the migration paths of star whales named purrgil.” Assuming nobody tampered with the Jedi archive memory that Huyang is familiar with, this is a fairly big revelation. At least one aspect of hyperspace travel in Star Wars canon now has an organic origin.
In the context of Ahsoka, the purrgil are an Easter egg and also a puzzle piece. They’re an Easter egg because purrgil first appeared in Rebels, and, in the finale of that series, were responsible for jumping Thrawn and Ezra Bridger into an unknown region outside Star Wars galaxy. Meanwhile, within the storyline of Ahsoka (and Rebels), the purrgil prove that Sabine and Ahsoka are on the right track to find Ezra but also proves that the giant hyperspace ring constructed by Morgan Elsbeth is using purrgil “knowledge” to find a way to find Grand Admiral Thrawn. They’re wonderful star beasts who contain the keys to jumping between galaxies.
Has Star Wars hyperspace canon changed?
To be clear, Huyang says that hyperspace lanes between galaxies were inspired by purrgil migration routes, which seems to indicate that hyperspace travel within the regular Star Wars galaxy itself developed differently. But did it? Why is intergalactic travel via hyperspace different than hyperspace travel within the galaxy?
The plotting of Ahsoka essentially wants us to think of the giant hyperspace ring as something like the Ring Gates in The Expanse, or like a super wormhole from Deep Space Nine. And yet, we’re told this technology isn't too different from existing hyperspace tech within the home Star Wars galaxy. In the Rebels episode “The Call,” Hera said: “When I was young, I was told amazing stories of creatures that lived in the stars, traveled between the worlds. Old pilots said it was the purrgil who inspired us to jump from system to system. But I don't believe it."
So, in theory, Rebels already asserted this idea back in 2016. Jumping between star systems (within the same galaxy!) was, maybe, inspired by purrgil migrations too. What Ahsoka is doing now is simply doubling down on that idea and making these space whales even more integral to Star Wars than ever before.
If and when Ahsoka actually has us arrive in this new, distant galaxy via a massive hyperspace ring, Star Wars will, interestingly, be opening up its continuity in a way it hasn’t in a very long time. The text on the screen of the episodic Star Wars films tells us of a galaxy far, far away, meaning a singular galaxy. But now, with the history of hyperspace being refined and rewritten, it seems Star Wars history will soon include several galaxies, all of which may, or may not, have any similarity to anything we’ve seen before. With the help of the purrgil, Ahsoka is, quite literally, helping Star Wars go where no Jedi has gone before.