In another time line for the series a timid Homura transfers into Madoka’s class after spending some time in the hospital, and is shown by her where the nurse’s office is. With Madoka taking the lead in introducing herself to her.
Instead of passing everything with ease, Homura struggles with everything that school throws at her and as she considers herself a hindrance towards everyone else, she finds herself inside a witch’s barrier. However before she’s attacked, none other than Mami and Madoka arrive as Puella Magi and save her. At this point Madoka had only been a Puella Magi for a week and Mami thought that she might be able to beat the Walpurgis Night. But when that time came, Mami was killed and in defeating it Madoka also met her end, feeling that she had to protect everything and because of her friendship with Homura she didn’t regret her choice. Overhearing her wish that she had lived on, Kyubey appears before Homura and offers to make that wish come true.
So because of this she wished for the chance to redo everything and protect her, being sent back in time to when she was still in the hospital, and when she transferred into Madoka’s class she didn’t hesitate at all in introducing herself as another Puella Magi. She starts to work with her and Mami where they find that her ability is to stop time, something powerful if used right, and because of this she put together some explosives which she used to defeat her first witch. However once again Madoka met her limit in fighting the Walpurgis Night and this time became a witch.
This time around she tried to get them to realise that Kyubey had tricked them, but Sayaka immediately shot the idea down and as a close range fighter, wasn’t confident with her way of fighting. So because of this she used her ability to sneak into Yakuza hideouts and take their firearms, and when Sayaka became a witch she used them to protect Madoka. Apologising as she dealt the final blow towards Sayaka. After this though, Mami had a mental breakdown and killed Kyouko before Madoka stopped her. With only the two of them left Homura was able to help her go on, but in fighting the Walpurgis Night they both met their limits and without any Grief Seeds it looked like they would both become witches. However Madoka still had one lying around and used it to purify Homura’s Soul Gem, asking her to make sure that she will never become a Puella Magi and to kill her before she transformed.
Due to this she hardened her mind and became the Homura we know now, killing the Kyubey outside of Madoka’s house and resolving to do whatever it takes to handle everything on her own and protect Madoka. During this loop though, she found herself overpowered by the Walpurgis Night and seeing his chance, Kyubey made a contract with Madoka, defeating the Walpurgis Night in a single blow. After this even Kyubey was amazed at how strong she was, and felt that it would only be a matter of time before she destroyed the world and he moved on. Refusing to acknowledge this though, Homura once again reversed time and began the time line that we’ve seen so far.
Simply put this episode was amazing, not only going into Homura’s character to clear up the motivations for her actions, but it also showed where the sort of scenes from the opening and the promotional material come in. Overall though one of the things that I really liked about this episode were how in these time lines Homura and Madoka were complete opposites to who they are now, presenting just what could have happened instead.
It’s due to this that I really liked the progression in Homura’s character, she started off as your typical timid girl with glasses, yet as she searched for that one end where her only true friend would be happy, she eventually became much more confident and jaded in the process. During this timid stage for her character she was also kind of cute as well, where despite how much trouble she had she would still try her best even if it wasn’t all that good. If anything the time loops she threw herself through must have been tough as well, as no matter how hard she tried to stop it something would always go wrong, and Madoka would always become a Puella Magi. Let alone during one of these loops she was also forced to shoot her at the end. Because of the promise she made to her, her past actions also became a lot more powerful as only now are we able to see the true weight behind them all.
The friendship she had with Madoka was also something that was nice to see, being her entire reason for becoming a Puella Magi and how much their character’s initially contrasted was also pretty interesting. Where during their first meeting, Madoka had been the one to lead the way for her and all the things that Homura had succeeded in, were really things she failed the first time around. Not to mention just how different Madoka was from how she is now, she was a lot more upbeat and confident, certain that what she was doing was for the best, it as if becoming a Puella Magi had changed her and it was what she had been waiting for her entire life.
One of the fun parts of the continuous time loops was being able to see some of the old characters again, showing us how things would have carried out if Madoka had became a Puella Magi to begin with, and a much more naive Homura joined up with her and Mami to fight witches. However at the same time it was all to see them either die or break down all over again. Something that immediately weighed it all down, with Sayaka still inevitably becoming a witch and Mami having a mental breakdown when she found out the final secret to the Soul Gems, surprising considering how she seemed like the most level headed one among them all. At the same time Kyouko didn’t seem to go through that development either, hinting that Sayaka may have not had an effect on her and she stayed who she was when she first appeared.
Something that was also interesting to see was how it was able to tie in with the dream that Madoka had at the start of the series, with it being the point where Homura had last went back in time and at the same time had always failed her. With it always being the point where Madoka had either died or became a witch, the result seeming inevitable with no real way for Homura to stop it. Partly because of this the choice to use the opening as the ending theme was also kind of appropriate as the series went full circle, tying in with what was seen in it as it went back to it’s starting point.