Star Wars: Rogue One ended the Death Star against the planet Scarif, and in many ways the attack was worse than the one on Alderaan.
As a prequel, Rogue one Needed to carefully skirt around the existing Star Wars canon, which was no small task considering the movie led directly to the events of A new hope. The use of the Death Star, in particular, had to be approached with care, because canonically, Alderaan was the first test of the full destructive capabilities of the battle station. That meant Rogue one He couldn’t show it destroying a planet, and yet the protagonists had to understand the magnitude of what they were facing in order to motivate them to act.
Director Gareth Edwards limited the use of the Death Star to two incidents, both designed as smaller trials to avoid stealing the Alderaan thunder. The first involved the destruction of the city of Jedha, while the second was an attack with a similar focus on Scarif, where the heroes eventually managed to steal the Death Star’s plans and transmit them to Princess Leia. In response, the Death Star launched a larger attack on the planet’s massive facility, destroying it and the surrounding territory without totally destroying the planet.
However, given the nature of the assault, the attack on Scarif may even be worse than the destruction of Alderaan. Scarif consisted of islands and shallow seas, and the explosion unleashed by the Death Star boiled the oceans and unleashed a tsunami that likely wiped out nearby facilities. The devastation would also destroy the ecology of the planet, not only flora and fauna, but also human settlements. And unlike Alderaan, which was destroyed in seconds, the damage would unfold over decades, turning a nearby paradise into a wasteland.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Citadel Tower destroyed in the attack was an Imperial facility, manned by Imperial personnel and manned by Imperial troops, who were presumably killed as well. While the city of Jedha was a sacred site to the Jedi and Alderaan was home to Rebel sympathizers, both sites were enemies of the Empire, which means an attack on them, though horrific, at least made logistical sense.
Scarif, on the other hand, belonged to the Imperials, and the Citadel Tower was an incredibly valuable place. Beyond the direct loss of Imperial personnel in the attack, the Tower itself was completely lost and all the data it contained was destroyed. Grand Moff Tarkin did this to prevent the transmission of the Death Star’s plans, but gives the order to activate the weapon against the Empire’s own forces without a hint of hesitation or remorse. To him, everyone in Scarif had outlived their usefulness, including Orson Krennic, a fierce rival whom he was also able to conveniently eliminate with the blast.
The callousness with which the deed is inflicted speaks volumes about the Empire, and the Star Wars The saga has done its best to reflect planetary devastation like what happened on Scarif before, especially with Mustafar, who seemed to heal from the ecological damage present in the aftermath of The rise of Skywalker. Alderaan will never be cured, of course, but that may be the only way his fate is worse than Scarif’s.
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