Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - 2.02 Cargo of Doom
Ten years ago, George Lucas and Dave Filoni introduced the world to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated series that filled in the gap between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The story takes place during the Clone Wars, with the Jedi-led clone army facing off against the droid armies of the Separatist Alliance. With the announcement of a surprise seventh season by Disney, The Digital Fix will be revisiting the animated series, looking back at the most important episodes and story arcs of the show’s five seasons, highlighting the elements that made this show so beloved by Star Wars fans.
We return with the episode Cargo of Doom, which originally aired back in 2009...
Continuing the story begun in Holocron Heist, the episode follows Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano as they pursue bounty hunter Cad Bane, who has stolen a vital holocron from the Jedi Temple. What makes this device so important is that if it's combined with a specific memory crystal, one can see a list of every Force-sensitive child in the galaxy, along with their location. It's why Darth Sidious wants it so badly; he wants to kidnap potential Jedi for his own nefarious experiments. Interestingly, the plot of rescuing Force-sensitive children from the Sith is revisited in the second season of Star Wars: Rebels (The Future of the Force).
While only the second episode of the second season, Cargo of Doom is one of the first episodes to give an idea of how dark the show will become in the future. Characters have died before now (season one's The Gungan General for example), but none before now, to my knowledge, meet a fate quite so gruesome as Jedi Master Bolla Ropal. As the guardian of the memory crystal (and a skilled Jedi), Cad Bane puts the Jedi through severe torture to force him to open the holocron (which can only be done by a skilled Jedi). Predictably, Ropal refuses to cooperate, so Bane increases the amount of torture.
It's an excruciating scene to watch as it is made very clear that Ropal is in an extreme amount of pain. And just when you think it can't get any worse...he dies. This is one of those defining moments where you realize the good guys might not be rescued in time, defying classic story tropes.
Ultimately, Anakin is forced to open the holocron in a very cool visual sequence by using the Force to rearrange the device in such a way that the crystal is able to be inserted. Bane is still able to escape for the moment by disguising himself with clone trooper armor.
Cargo of Doom is a good middle episode in the story arc. It continues the action but also contains a fair amount of intrigue, a notable example being how Bane manipulates Anakin into opening the holocron by threatening to kill Ahsoka, thus playing on Anakin's fears of losing those he cares about. The story of the holocron would be concluded in the following episode, Children of the Force.