I don’t like spiders.
So, of course, when they showed up in Chapter 10 of The Mandalorian, they were enough to creep me out. That’s for sure! But they also made me happy, because those spiders have a long history in Star Wars, dating back to Ralph McQuarrie, but this is the first time they’ve been in live-action!
Back when George Lucas and company were developing the sequel to Star Wars, the legendary Ralph McQuarrie produced a piece of concept art featuring Luke Skywalker encountering a “knobby white spider” on Dagobah. Obviously this didn’t make it into The Empire Strikes Back, but as has happened so many times in Star Wars, McQuarrie’s concept art is never forgotten, and ideas are always being drawn from his original artwork for the franchise.
That seems to be especially true when it comes to Dave Filoni, who was the apprentice to George Lucas, and in particular based things in Rebels off of McQuarrie’s art. So, in season three of Star Wars Rebels, as Phoenix Squadron attempts to establish their base on Atollon, they encounter a bunch of Krykna spiders – based on McQuarrie’s artwork of that spider from Empire.
The design again showed up in The Mandalorian, for the first time in live action, as the spiders on Maldo Kreis charged at Din Djarin, the Child, and the frog lady. What isn’t clear is whether these are supposed to be exactly the same species as the Krykna spiders seen in Rebels, but it does seem pretty clear that they are based on McQuarrie’s artwork.
My guess is that these spiders are technically a different species, though based on the same design. For example, Wookieepedia has a different page for these spiders (calling them “Ice spiders”), while the Star Wars databank mentions that Krykna spiders are “native to the remote world of Atollon.” The environments of Atollon and Maldo Kreis are quite different, so it seems safest at this point to say that they are technically different kinds of spiders. Just like the knobby white spider from legends seems different from the Krykna in canon (because the knobby white spiders are on Dagobah and the Krykna on Atollon), so too does it seem like the Krykna and the spiders from this show are different too. But all of them share similar roots.
So nonetheless, the point remains: in the design for these spiders, The Mandalorian is drawing from Ralph McQuarrie’s artwork and therefore connecting to a rich legacy in Star Wars. And I think that’s really cool – even if I could do without spiders.