In chapter 10 (“The Traveler”) of the Mandalorian, the title character encounters a terrifying species of monsters that are grotesque and aggressive spiders in every way. While most of the countless spider monsters are small – probably little baby revolutionaries – some are as big as the ship of Mando.
What are these unforgettable spiders that became the unfortunate climax of the episode? Although they are not mentioned by name in “The Passenger”, they are Krykna. And, yes, they have a story in the Star Wars universe – quite a long one, actually.
The Krykna go all the way back to “The Empire Strikes Back. They first appear in the conceptual work of artist Ralph McQuarrie for the 1980 film. In the original drafts of the story, they were to be an obstacle for Luke Skywalker, who he was to meet on Yoda’s home planet Dagobah.
For reasons that were never explained, the Krykna did not appear in The Empire Strikes Back or any other Star Wars film. In fact, they have appeared once before in the larger Star Wars universe. But more about that, because first a small breakdown of the plot of The Traveler is necessary.
At the beginning of the episode, Mando is still on Tatooine and falls into a very familiar-looking cantina. He meets Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), who plays Sabaac (a card game you may remember from Solo: A Star Wars Story) and seems to be sitting at Han Solo’s old table. From her Mando learns that he might be able to find some Mandalorians for the husband of a froglike alien. To do so, he has to transport her and her eggs to the husband.
During the transit Mando is chased by pilots of the New Republic X-Wing and crashes onto an ice planet that seems to be neither Illum nor Hoth. The child (or Baby Yoda if he has to) can’t stop eating the frog lady’s eggs, although he pauses to eat a strange plant that wakes up the crykna spiders that chase Mando, the child and the frog lady back to his damaged ship. They almost die by the hands – the legs? – of a giant crykna that crushes their ship when they are suddenly rescued by the pilots of the New Republic X-Wing.
Why is all this so important? Because one of the pilots is played by Dave Filoni, an executive producer and writer/director of The Mandalorian. This short film has a special significance because it has brought the Krykna to life, so to speak, with his 3D animated series Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018). In this series, a crew of the rebellion on the planet Atollon fights against them, and Sabine Wren (a Mandalorian character who is said to be presented in live-action form on The Mandalorian this season) kills some of them. In the same plot line, Captain Rex is captured by the Krykna. Rex is a former clone trooper, cloned from the DNA of Jango Fett, who collaborates with the rebellion.
Will we see the Krykna again? Well, that is unclear. “The Traveler” felt very much like an episode in its own right, but maybe it’s not. In the original trailer that Disney+ released for “The Mandalorian” this season, it shows Mando wandering in a seemingly icy region that may be the same unidentified planet where the Krykna live.
Since Filoni brings elements of rebellion with him, could the planet – and thus the Krykna spider monsters – serve as a way to introduce Sabine Wren or even Rex? Could that have been Rex and not Boba Fett, who was seen fleetingly at the end of last week? What if the show makes the ultimate guest appearance and Luke Skywalker fights the beasts he was originally meant to fight in The Empire Strikes Back?
There are so many questions, but we all have to wait and see. But with only two episodes in the new season, the series seems to be laying the foundation for the future.