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Dragon Ball Super: A Surprising Hero Returns to the Battle

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 130 of Dragon Ball Super, "The Greatest Showdown of All Time! The Ultimate Survival Battle!" which debuted Saturday on Adult Swim.

With the fate of the Dragon Ball Multiverse hanging in the balance, the fighters of the Tournament of Power have made several selfless sacrifices in a last ditch effort to ensure their team stays in the martial arts competition. Virtually every single Z Fighter from Universe 7, including Gohan and Vegeta, have used their final moments in the contest of champions to give their remaining teammates a chance, either by recklessly eliminating themselves along with a superior opponent or donating the last of their combat strength to give their teammates a boost in power.

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Several episodes ago, Android 17 had stood up against the considerably more powerful opponent Jiren while Goku and Vegeta were weakened from their own bout against the Universe 11 Pride Trooper. As Jiren launched a massive energy attack to eliminate all three assembled Universe 7 fighters from the tournament in one fell swoop, Android 17 used the last of his strength to shield Goku and Vegeta with a forcefield, seemingly at the expense of his own life to keep the two Saiyan warriors in the fight. Since then, Vegeta had been eliminated battling Jiren while Goku finally mastered Ultra Instinct long enough to temporarily turn the tide of battle and push Jiren to the brink of elimination himself.

However, with Goku suddenly incapacitated by pushing himself above his physical limits for a prolonged period of time through Ultra Instinct, Jiren takes advantage of the moment to blast Goku out of the arena to eliminate what appears to be the last warrior standing from the tournament. Fortunately, Goku is rescued at the very last moment by his longtime mortal enemy Frieza who prepares to battle against Jiren alone after bringing Goku back to the ring. And the interplanetary dictator finds himself receiving reinforcements of his own when Android 17 suddenly and unexpectedly reveals himself to still be alive and ready to fight once again.

First debuting as a major antagonist in Dragon Ball Z along with his twin sister Android 18, Android 17 laid relatively low after the defeat of Cell approximately two-thirds of the way through the classic anime series. Cameoing sporadically, Android 17 returned as a villain in the non-canonical Dragon Ball GT before his re-introduction towards the end of Dragon Ball Super as a reclusive park ranger dedicated to protecting nature and rare animal species while raising a family of his own, with a wife and several children. Android 17 revealed he had grown much stronger since his last appearance in Dragon Ball Z, able to stand toe-to-toe against Goku in a friendly sparring match while the latter was transformed into a Super Saiyan Blue before agreeing to join Universe 7's team in the Tournament of Power.

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With Frieza having grown considerably more powerful since Dragon Ball Z himself, the two Universe 7 fighters are their reality's last line of defense against Jiren as Dragon Ball Super moves into its final episode, with the climactic battle showing no signs of slowing down. There is an irony that two former villains have stepped up to become heroes in their universe's most desperate time of need but the franchise has really been long about redemption at its core, as evidenced by everyone from Vegeta and Piccolo to even Yamcha and Tien first introduced as antagonists before becoming valuable allies.

The fight against Jiren has been the focus of the final stretch of episodes for Dragon Ball Super. Many surprise twists and turns have been along the way, as the Z Fighters desperately battled to avoid elimination against the clear, most powerful opponent they have ever faced to date. With Goku saved by Frieza and Android 17 revealing himself to still be alive, Universe 7 has bought itself a little more time to stay in the fight, but with Goku incapacitated and Jiren more determined than ever, it may be too little, too late.

Newly dubbed episodes of Dragon Ball Super air on Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim.

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