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1. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden that Vegeta and Tien are my favorite two characters on the show. Tien for the great aesthetic appearance of the character and all of his varied techniques. And Vegeta because his cocky, headstrong personality makes him the most entertaining character to watch. So I hate to see my boy Vegeta like this, but I am glad that someone finally hit that Stamina Zero point. Goku still can’t find the strength to actually get up and do anything, so Vegeta stands up to fight Jiren and give Goku more time.
…Unfortunately, Vegeta is literally unable to power up anymore. He can’t even go Super Saiyan, so his entire fight is in base form. His punches have no force, his moves are slower, and even his Final Flash peters out in a matter of seconds. His odds of winning the match definitely do not look good, yet simultaneously this is the best he’s ever looked as a character.
2. That said, much as I like Vegeta’s character, I’ve always tried to deny the fact that he’s totally the most well-known male tsundere character in anime. I kinda just wanted him to be that tough, emotionless dad stereotype that’s so common in older American media. But nope! As Jiren is beating the Prince of All Saiyans to sleep, he starts having flashbacks to key moments in his life. And the entire time, he’s pretending to not enjoy all these happy moments he spent taking Bulma out on dates or going to amusement parks with Trunks, but it’s obvious he’s the happiest husband and proudest dad in the world.
Still, it’s never a good sign when you start having flashbacks and you’re not the main character. “Vegeta Falls” is in the episode title, and the writers deliver on that promise. There’s no power-up that comes, no last second miracle for Vegeta…his character development just upgrades him into this universe’s version of Rock Lee: a character who never gets the big win, even though you always wish he would because he clearly wants it the most.
3. Just as Vegeta gets eliminated, he does something that proves he’s come full circle as a character: he willingly hands the battle over to Goku. Not for pride, but for the people he loves and wants to protect. And that’s cool, but something ridiculous also happens. As he’s being eliminated, he gives Goku the last of his energy, and somehow that’s enough for Goku to recover and go Super Saiyan Blue.
How, Sway? Like, when Vegeta had this energy he couldn’t even go regular Super Saiyan with it! Not Super Saiyan 2, not Super Saiyan God, or whatever that weird Sparkling form was…just base Super Saiyan. He tries and it’s like trying to start a car that’s out of gas. So with the non-existent energy he passes to Goku the guy reaches Blue? Being the main character in Dragon Ball gets you a billion chances.
4. That said, for whatever that energy got him, what it didn’t get Goku was an actual win. Jiren beats Goku down worse than he does Vegeta, presumably because he knows Goku has enough energy to properly fight back. If I have one other complaint with this episode, it’s that there’s so many repeated animation shots here. It’s almost baffling; there’s only four episodes left, Toei couldn’t have sprung a bit more on the budget and let this show go out with a bang? Those hits looked impactful but I only needed to see them once, y’know?
Still, just when Goku is at the end of his rope and almost about to be eliminated from a full powered punch from Jiren, he finally achieves it. Complete with his own flashbacks to some of the most important moments from the tournament…and the less plot relevant characters yelling “Goku” over and over…he achieves Ultra Instinct, one final time. It’s expected but it’s still cool…or at least it would be if the creator of existence itself wasn’t sitting there talking about how awesome he looks. Goku’s got enough of a cheering section without having someone new to verbally fellate him. Plus when Zen-Oh cheers Universe 7 like this, it’s impossible not to wonder why we’re even having this tournament? He clearly favors that universe more than the rest.
5. Next Episode: Only two minutes remain until the end of the Tournament of Power! Goku has achieved Ultra Instinct just in time for the last moments of the tournament! But does it finally place him and Jiren on an even plane?
There’s already scans circulating proving that Goku’s version of Ultra Instinct is incomplete, but it looks like next episode he finally manages to finish it and reach his full potential.
Also, may as well float this theory again: since Freiza hasn’t even been eliminated yet, the obvious prediction is that these two characters will eliminate one another. I’d give it one final episode. If Frieza isn’t unceremoniously drop kicked to the bleachers, he’ll be the last person standing. That’d create an entirely new issue for the Z Warriors, as he very clearly can’t be brought back to life…but after saving everyone else, they’d have to do it, right?
Dragon Ball Super will be going on break for the next week, but we’ll be back on March 4th, 2018 as we head into the three remaining episodes.
Dragon Ball Super is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.