The Mandalorian has always been a space western, but it kicked its season 2 off with the most western chapter yet—featuring sheriffs, desert towns, saloon standoffs, invasions, native-settler warfare, and, of course, our lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin and his (Tonto?) Baby Yoda. And then there’s … a Krayt Dragon? Or is it just a worm? It looks more like a worm.
In chapter 9, we see the Krayt dragon (or, you know, the worm) terrorize Mos Pelgo’s inhabitants and the desert nomads, the Tuscan Raiders (“sand people”), forcing the two warring factions into an enemy-of-my-enemy truce.
Mandalorian Din Djarin agrees to help hunt the creature in exchange for a bunch of metal owned by Mos Pelgo’s Cobb Vanth. (To further solidify all the western genre allusions in Chapter 9, The Mandalorian cast TV sheriff Timothy Olyphant—Deadwood, Justified, Fargo Season 4—as Vanth.)
The metal seems to be the armor previously worn by Boba Fett (seen looking very different than we’ve ever seen him before at the end of the episode). But we’ll get to all that in another story.
For now, we’re interested in the monster.
Here’s what we know about the Krayt Dragon.
The Krayt Dragon is native to Tatooine, and it doesn’t always look like a worm
The dragon’s home is also Luke Skywalker’s: Tatooine. According to Wookieepedia, the dragon has two subspecies: the “Canyon Krayt” and the “Greater Krayt.” The Canyon Krayt resembles more your typical “dragon”—something lizard-like with legs. The Greater Krayt apparently uses legs to navigate the planets dunes, and so looks more like a worm. The first time we see a Krayt is as a skeleton in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. C-3PO and R2-D2 were lucky not to have encountered one in the desert.
The Krayt Dragon’s pearl is extremely valuable
Apparently, the Krayt Dragon’s pearl can be used in the construction of a light saber. Its value is also monetary—something the Raiders are happy to trade with, which explains their elation when discovering one at the end of Chapter 9.
The Mandalorian’s Krayt Dragon comes from Frank Herbert’s Dune
The Krayt Dragon is likely inspired by another space fantasy property and another desert planet: Dune’s Arrakis. Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel about the feudal battles over the planet Arrakis (and its natural resource, the spice melange) played an aesthetic influence over George Lucas. Dune’s intergalactic power politics and Arrakis’ desert ecosystem lie at the heart of Star Wars iconography: Tatooine and the war between the Jedi and the Sith. (Mos Pelgo’s forced mining camp imitates Arrakis’ melange harvest.)
Dune’s Arrakis also births monster-inspirations found in the original Star Wars trilogy, most notably the exogorth, the giant space worm that attempts to swallow the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid belt. Dune’s worms are drawn to the melange harvests on the planet as well as the signal emitted from pieces of technology. Mando is told the Krayt Dragon also senses signals from spacecrafts, forcing Mando to hunt on foot.
Similar to Dune’s Sandworm is the Krayt Dragon’s terror over the desert planet’s nonnative populace. As for the natives, one might (loosely) compare Tatooine’s Tuscan Raiders to Dune’s Fremen. Though, the Fremen’s relationship with the sandworm is more complex than the Raiders’ with the Krayt Dragon. The raiders want the Krayt Dragon dead. It’s not so simple in Dune.
Since the upcoming Dune film has been delayed until 2021, we can thankfully get our fix of desert monsters and planetary politics every week on Disney +. Look for more Dune inspirations as the series continues.
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