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While he may occasionally help our heroes, he is only doing it for himself.

Near the beginning of Dragon Ball Super, one of the most iconic villains in the entire franchise, Frieza, reappeared seeking revenge for his defeats in Dragon Ball Z. Unfortunately for the evil space emperor, even his new found Gold Form wasn’t enough to stop the power of Super Sayian Blue and he was once again killed by our heroes.

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Then came the Tournament of Power. In the tournament, ten-person teams from across eight universes battle it out for the ultimate prize: survival (along with a wish from the Super Dragon Balls)—all seven losing universes will be wiped out of existence. Goku and Gohan were able to gather a team for the tournament, but in the eleventh hour, Buu fell asleep from over-training. Down a man, the only person Goku could think of to fill the slot was Frieza.

Of course, Frieza has his own plans. Not only is resurrection his price for helping Goku, he clearly has some secret plan involving the gods and the Super Dragon Balls. Indeed as the tournament begins, it seems clear that in no way has Frieza reformed.

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He starts by making a deal with his Universe 6 counterpart, Frost, and then proceeds to defeat various enemies with brutal techniques—terrorizing his opponents even as he defeats them. However, often in Dragon Ball, past villains return as heroes. Tien, Piccolo, Vegeta, and the Androids all follow this pattern. Recent episodes have been playing around with adding Frieza to this list.

At first, while it appears that Frost and Frieza are teaming up to defeat Gohan, it is revealed to be a con so that Frost will lower his guard and give Frieza an easy win. Next, when Goku is nearly helpless after his fight with Jiren, Frieza gives Goku enough energy to at least move and fight a bit rather than finishing Goku off. Frieza even goes so far as to say he is repaying Goku for when he gave Frieza some of his energy on Namek all those years before.

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At this point, Frieza has had numerous chances to turn on our heroes, but has chosen to remain loyal each time. But just in case you somehow forgot that Frieza is a bomb just waiting to explode, in the latest episode, he shows that he is clearly just biding his time.

He watches from the shadows as Vegeta and his pupil from Universe 6 form an alliance, waits for Vegeta to fly away, and then punts Cabba right off the edge in a short fight. Frieza doesn’t care what deals the team makes. In the end, he intends to get those Dragon Balls and nothing else.

When looking at Frieza’s seemingly altruistic actions in the Tournament of Power, it’s important to remember that he is an inherently selfish being. Everything he does is for his own purposes—to obtain his own goal.

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As a sly customer, he keeps putting himself in situations where no matter what choice he makes, it’s good for him. Take the alliance with Frost for example. If Frost is fighting Gohan, he can side with Frost once it becomes clear Frost will win. If it goes the other way, he’ll side with Gohan. Either way, he’ll have impressed an ally and defeated a competitor toward his goal of being the last man standing. Even better, he’ll barely have to do any of the fighting.

Then there’s him giving energy to the depleted Goku. Sure Frieza wants Goku dead, but once his wish is granted, it’s more than likely that he’ll be able to finish Goku off at any time. Moreover, if Frieza is as strong as he thinks he is—i.e., he is Goku’s level—then he has a very real chance to win the tournament.

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Of course, to win, Jiren, the clear front runner, needs to be taken out. The only person who has shown the ability to stand toe-to-toe with him has been Goku. If nothing else, Goku and Jiren can tire each other out and Frieza, largely fresh, can take out the remaining fighter.

For this to happen, Goku needs to be able to recover and fight Jiren again. So Frieza gives him a bit of energy to help him survive until his Saiyan nature powers him back up stronger than before. It also has the advantage of making Goku lower his guard a bit.

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Now Frieza is free to fade into the background for a while, to save his energy and wait for the moment to strike. And rest assured, strike he will.

Dragon Ball Super is streaming on Daisuki, FUNimation, and Crunchyroll and is airing on Cartoon Network’s Toonami with an English dub.

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