BY MACK VELTMAN
Warning: this post contains slight spoilers for the new episode of The Mandalorian which you can stream on Disney Plus.
Fans of the expansive pantheon of Star Wars creatures and monsters collectively cheered when the krayt dragon made it’s live action debut in the second season premier of The Mandalorian. I’ll breakdown what the krayt dragon is, and it’s roots in both Star Wars Legends and cannon.
After a long a wait, lots of hype, and various circulating fan theories, The Mandalorian season 2 premiered on Disney+ and reunited everyone with their favorite bounty hunter and his young charge. The Mandalorian Chapter 9 opens with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and the Child searching for any additional Mandalorians to help return the Child to his people. Hoping to seek out one of his own kind, Din returns to Tatooine, and encounters a marshal with very familiar set of armor. The marshal offers to return the set to Din if the Mando helps him slay a krayt dragon, which has been attacking the settlement and killing the livestock and farmers. Along the way to fearsome creature’s den, Din and the marshal encounter a group of Tusken Raiders determined to slay the beast as well, and they form a shaky alliance. With help from the townspeople, the Mando and his allies lay a trap for the krayt dragon, and after a breathtaking and explosive fight and several casualties, they emerge victorious against the giant creature.
Chapter Nine marks the first live action appearance of the krayt dragon (unless you count the skeletal remains we see in A New Hope), a huge carnivorous reptile known for their body concentration of pearls, which are considered highly valuable and believed to contain magical properties by the Tusken people. In fact, the pearls are so valuable that in Legends, Han Solo used one to pay his way into the famous Sabaac tournaments where he won the Millennium Falcon against Lando Calrissian.
According to Star Wars mythos, krayt dragons can live for over 100 years, and grow continually throughout their lifespan. The creatures consist of two subspecies: the Canyon krayt dragons–which are tan to blend in with the sandy environments of Tatooine, and the Greater Krayt, which is mostly light-grey in coloration. Most krayt dragons had a variety of spikes and horns on their heads and backs and vary in size and appearance. The creatures are believed to descend from the Duinougwuin, also known as Star Dragons, and are relatives of the much smaller kell dragons.
A fierce hunter, the krayt dragon became an important part of the Tusken culture on Tatooine. The Sand people would hunt the krayt dragons in an initiation ritual to prove themselves as warriors, and succeeding against the massive beast was considered the most prestigious of accomplishments by the Tusken people. Adolescent Tuskan males traveled to the Dune Sea and were only accepted back into their tribes as adults if they succeeded in killing a krayt dragon. Sharad Hett, A Tuskan Jedi from Legends, exiled himself to Tatooine following the death of his family. His son fell to the Dark Side after being kidnapped and tortured by the Yuuzhan Vong, after which he renamed himself Darth Krayt in remembrance of the fearsome creatures he fought.
In Knights of the Old Republic, an amnesiac Revan is searching for the Star Forge to defeat Darth Malak, and discovers a Star Map in a krayt dragon’s lair. Revan defeats the creature and uses the pearls to make his lightsaber stronger, a task the players can accomplish in the Knights of the Old Republic videogame. Similarly to what we saw in The Mandalorian, the player must lead a Bantha to the krayt dragon’s lair and position your grenades near the ground so the explosives target the krayt dragon’s underside. Like Revan, you can use the pearls to increase the strength and durability of your lightsaber. In honor of the sheer ferocity of the krayt dragons, the Jedi Order named the Shien and Djem So form of lightsaber combat “The Way of the Krayt Dragon”.
You can learn more about the kryat dragons in Knights of the Old Republic and the short story “Rites” from A Certain Point of View which follows a group of young Tuskens as they hunt after a krayt dragon for their rite of passage.
What other creatures are you excited to see in The Mandalorian? Let me know in the comments and as always, stay nerdy!