An alien species seen in The Mandalorian season 2 was already represented by Ponda Baba in A New Hope. Here’s what is known about his race.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian reintroduced a species called Aqualish, the bug-eyed race that had already made its debut in A New Hope via a character named Ponda Baba. A group of Aqualish raiders was also seen in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4, but what should Mandalorian fans know about the species?
The first Aqualish to appear in the Star Wars universe was Ponda Baba, a minor character who appeared in the iconic cantina scene in A New Hope with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Ponda Baba was one of two alien thugs, the other being Evazan, who tried to pick a fight with Luke when they approached the bar. After Ponda said a few words to Luke in an alien language, Evazan translated for him by telling Luke that Ponda Baba didn’t like him. After Evazan threatened him, Obi-Wan made efforts to calm him down. When this didn’t work, a fight erupted. This confrontation ended with Obi-Wan injuring Evazan and cutting off Ponda Baba’s arm.
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Star Wars has since added to this character’s story outside of the films and the lore surrounding his race, though they’re usually limited to just background roles in Star Wars movies. That being said, they’re featured a bit more prominently in cartoons, comic books, and video games. Their latest live-action appearance came in The Mandalorian season 2, when Cara Dune (Gina Carano) got into a fight with a small band of them on Nevarro, right before they could feast on a lava meerkat. As for who these black-eyed, hairy-cheeked creatures who have the physical traits of spiders and walruses really are, they hail from a planet called Ando, a place in the Mid Rim which has been mentioned but never visited.
It’s been said that the Aqualish often live near water, but are capable of thriving on land. At some point, many of the Aqualish left their native planet and spread out across the galaxy, with many finding places for themselves in the Senate. Others, however, opted to join forces with Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) during the timeframe of the prequel trilogy. When the Republic fell and was replaced by the Empire, a large number of Aqualish chose bounty hunting and smuggling work over choosing sides in the conflict. Members of their species joined gangs and committed numerous acts of piracy during the civil war.
It would seem that their situation hasn’t changed much since the Empire was defeated. Their association with piracy and smuggling explains what they were doing in the Armorer’s old base in episode 4. They could have been scavenging for valuable Mandalorian armor or other materials they could sell, but it’s more likely that they were just pirates and thieves using it as a hideout to store their stolen loot, which was ultimately confiscated by Cara Dune, who is now doing her part to clean up crime as the new Marshal of Nevarro. Whether The Mandalorian will have yet more Aqualish appear isn’t entirely certain, although it’d be a welcome addition for them to feature in the series once more.
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