There are lots of sad scenes in live-action Star Wars. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are blasted on the sands of Tatooine. Han gets frozen in carbonite. Han’s son murders him in cold blood. Luke gets his hand cut off. Luke disappears. Obi-Wan Kenobi dies. Rose dies. Leia’s death scene is super-heartwrenching, and Kylo Ren’s devastating. Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor dying at the end of Rogue One left fans weeping. But it may be Boba Fett and the Tusken Raiders that rank number one as most gutting Star Wars scene ever.
In Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine, Boba Fett and the Tusken Raiders destroy a high-speed train that’s been shooting the sand people for sport, much like “hunting by rail” was a regular passtime for cross-country travelers in the United States, who shot both bison and Native Americans for absolutely no reason. While it’s got a bit of a white savior arc, it ends with Boba Fett being accepted into the Tusken Raiders tribe via psychedelic lizard vision quest. He’s one of them.
But in Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa, Boba Fett returns to find his beloved tribe slaughtered.
That’s bad enough.
But as he conducts their traditional Tusken Raiders funeral rite, last of all, he examines a half-finished Gaffi Stick, the traditional weapon of the Tusken Raiders. It clearly belonged to a Tusken who had recently reached manhood and begun carving it into his own weapon. It’s this loss, more than any other, that breaks the viewer as Boba Fett holds it, realizes its significance, and tosses it on the pyre with the others.
While he sees the mark of those who killed his tribe, he can’t yet exact revenge. It’s coming. But we’re left with a deserted camp, murdered tribesmen, and a funeral pyre.
The sands of Tatooine give and take. But it’s this loss that hurts the most.