(This post was written on 12/12/13)
Sperglord General's Warning: People who haven't seen Rebellion, have eye or heart conditions, or get mad at SuperMechaGodzilla should not read this post
From first principles, it's good to think of the series as Madoka Magica and the movies as Homura Magica.
The series is an intricate little puzzle on how to make a cruel system work for you. In the metatext of what Madoka sees, the characters exist to give Madoka advice and/or serve as a warning. Mami shows Madoka the value of kindness against cruelty and the folly of hubris. Kyouko teaches Madoka unconditional acceptance and instills in her the willingness to die for your beliefs. She shows the folly of selfishness/nihilism and forcing one's beliefs on others. Sayaka shows her strength and nobility (mostly after she's dead) and is a huge blaring warning sign on what the fate of a "hero of justice" can be. Evey Kyubey tells her she has the ability to become a god and shows her just what the stakes are as he consistently is a dick. He also reveals the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Homura...teaches her that there are people who really care about her and that inaction can hurt just as much as action. That you can give absolutely everything for someone you barely know, no matter how much it hurts, and that can be its own reward.
In the series, Madoka puts this all together when she talks to Kyubey in the shelter and has a conversation with her sober mother. She crosses the threshold into adulthood by becoming meguca because somebody has to do it. It's all up to her and she will not let all those girls die in despair. Homura's futile attempt at fighting Walpurgis is there to act as a cliffhanger and show that brute force won't work this time. Since Madoka is wearing the protagonist hat, she pulls it off and can get away with friendzoning Homura; she's ultimately the deuterogonist who exists as Madoka's right hand. We think Homura makes peace with Madoka's decision because we can't get into her head and because Madoka's choice is cathartic.
Now, the movie plays out similarly, but with a few twists. Due to time constraints and the idea of anime film condensation, you need a more active protagonist. Enter Homu. The scenes with her are brought more to the forefront, and the added in sequences are all about her. The cemetery scene after Kyouko's death transitioning into Episode 10 played in its near entirety is a reminder/sign that hey, Homura's side of the story is important. This girl is not all there and Madoka is the only thing that keeps her going. With the position of the scenes (IIRC, we go right to Homura's "I'm a creepy time traveler all of this is for you meduka" scene), Eternal is subtly shifting scene focus to Homura. So when we get the big fight scene and Homura runs up against Walpurgis, we feel her failure more than we anticipate Madoka's success. If Fukushima hadn't happened, we may have felt that more strongly in the series, but whatchagonnado?
There's one bit that stuck out to me in Eternal, which I thought was Homuservice at first but now I realize is a setup for Rebellion: remember when Madoka comes for Homura before she makes her wish? In the series it's a heroic thing; Madoka finally gets her Big Damn Heroes moment (pardon the tropespeak) because the audience has been blueballed with Madoka not becoming a magical girl for so long. In the movies it's still heroic, but Madoka is a lot more apologetic to Homura. It comes off as less "Yeah I know this isn't what you want but I'm doing this for everyone" and more "I'm sorry Homura, but if I don't do this you won't be able to save anyone ever again". That little scene shifts the emotional weight on Homura's feelings over Madoka's ascension. It's a minor thing you'd only catch if you were a sperglord, but it is really important.
We Rebellion now: from the opening voice-over we're told this is Homura's story. She leads us in and tells us it's about how she wanted to see Madoka again. So we know it's going to be about the fallout from Homuhomu getting friendzoned by the concept of hope. Where it gets weird is the OP; there's enough subtly wrong beforehand to twig some weirdness sensors, but there's always the chance it's an alternate loop/fandisc sort of thing.
Now the OP basically explains the movie. Madoka brightens up Homura's desolate world with her touch and this wonderland for megucas is built on Homura's despair. Homura can't enjoy her world unless Madoka pulls her into it. There are even blink-and-you'll-miss-it shots of Akuhomu's !Soul Gem and Akuhomu's shadow bursting forth from a despondent Homura's back.
So yeah, we have the off-kilter Saotome bit (which was kind of amazing) and a reintroduction of Homura. She's Megahomu, but confident and contracted like in loop two. When she's introduced to the group by Mami, the story has gone full fixfic. There's still enough subtly wrong to keep it from feeling like pandering (unless you want to think it's pandering), but the specific elements are interesting. Sayaka and Kyouko live together: if Kyouko and Sayaka are friends, Sayaka doesn't go off the deep end. Mami has Bebe: Mami is an intensely lonely person and Bebe acts as a pet to keep her stable. They fight Nightmares, not Witches (bad things happen to Mumi) or Wraiths (Sayaka's around, Madoka's around, no ever present misery of existence creating monsters). Homura still tries to glom onto Madoka, but as the softy Megahomu instead of the domineering Homura. If Homura tried to make Mami an idol, you'd have the goofy bonus route of the PSP game. It totally is playing to the fans, but it says something about Homura's character deep down.
She's as huge of a wibbly fanfiction nerd as actual wibbly fanfiction nerds. She doesn't want to be the cold badass, she doesn't want to no longer be human, she just wants to fuck around with her friends and save people. Even when she gets to do that, she's uncomfortable. Her transformation is awkward and stumbling, her theme is off-key, and instead of having her name show up in moonrunes, she gets "We grow bored, master. I want to die. Death is glory." Even the splashy part of her transformation has her being swallowed by her negative image, desperately reaching out for something she never grabs.
A brief aside on Nightmares: nightmares are bad dreams. Dreams and the phrase "I had a bad dream" are arc words. The moonrunes on the relief of Madokami read "Wer traumst?" or "Who is dreaming?" Nightmares come from muggles having trouble; specifically Hitomi having relationship trouble. Something transient, something ephemeral, something childish. Even the Cake Song is a children's rhyme. It's another playing to the Magical Girl fan base aspect, but it's also Homura's repressed dream. The more we go through Homura's Witch world, the more we realize that Homura, almost as much as Madoka, really fucking wishes she was in Pretty Cure or something. She wants her innocence back and she doesn't even know it.
The real kick in the teeth is that Homura can't allow herself her innocence. She will actively kill it. She won't allow herself to chill and be happy with an illusion, like Sayaka and Nagisa (who know what's going on from the start). She's the first to realize something's wrong and actively try to take it apart. She starts with Kyouko since she's mentally the toughest and because they kind of became close in the movie continuity/episode 12 postscript. She trusts Kyouko and knows her story, so she's willing to find the truth with her. Even when they find out the truth, Homura doesn't trust anyone else with the burden. She's still stuck on that "I can't depend on anyone anymore" shit and she shows it in the same way she showed it in the series; by taking off her glasses and undoing the braids. She then descends into a world of reflections. Jagged mirrors, all showing Madoka. Hardcore Buddhists would be going "aw shit son" right about now, since the world of maya is one of reflected desire. Around this time, the viewer notices that unimportant people either have the same face or no face at all. There may or may not be a Nopperabou thing going on here, or it may just be an extension of Homura's tunnel vision.
This next bit relies on the viewer-work metatext which the image of Megahomu becoming Serious Homu provides. Remember Lady Une from Gundam Wing? Total ice queen with the glasses on, wouldn't hurt a fly with the glasses off? Homura is that, but in reverse. We know that and unbeknownst to us, Mami knows that within the character-work metatext. This is why she bugged Homura with the ribbon; she noticed Homura's personality 180 and Homuhomu isn't a good actor to anyone but herself. Also something to note in that scene: Bebe is telling Homura she's got it wrong. She says "Kyubey" without babbling. Homura doesn't listen, because Bebe is a Witch and Witches have to die. She hates having to step on Mami's feelings, but she doesn't hate it enough to try and talk to her about it. So Mami basically has to beat it out of her.
Personal feelings note: this fight scene, more than anything up until Homura Witches out, shows to me that Homura has suicidal tendencies. Even if you know you won't die unless you shoot out your Soul Gem, putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger means something.
On with the show. Homura red pills Mami, but Mami already knows what's up. Homura could've asked, "hey Mami, how long have we been fighting Wraiths?" at her house and avoided the fight. In the confusion, Sayaka bails out Homura in a much flashier version of the way she bailed out Madoka from Homura in episode 1. Then Nagisa shows up to red pill Mami properly. Honestly, this was one of my favorite parts of the movie. I love me some Sallaka and always wondered if after her ordeal if she'd gotten wiser and sort of returned to the brains and the brawn of the MadoSaya combination.
Now Sayaka knows the entire score; she and Bebe were entrusted with Madokami's memories to pull an end run around Kyubey. She knows this is Homura's Labyrinth. She knows what Kyubey's trying to pull. She knows this is an illusory happiness. But she still plays along and she asks Homura if Witches are really that bad. Now this is all cryptic silliness (Sayaka probably getting Homura back for all the times she was cryptic and unhelpful) but the point is clear. She's asking two things: one, are you willing to ruin your own happiness and the happiness of others and two, do you hate yourself enough to actively try and kill yourself? Unfortunately, Homura can't take it as well as she dishes it out and answers a resounding yes to both questions.
Homura floats down a Tunnel of Love full of the other megucas' love for this reality, as the movie breaks the fourth wall to show their love to the fans. Y'all did notice the "Welcome to Cinema, Did you like the Cinema?" signs with the Nightmares, right? Another bit of post-postmodern silliness there; Homura's consistently given a filmstrip motif. Her monsters are cinema. Her transformation is cinema too, but we'll get to that later. She is the audience's desires as well as an actor in a story that's become hers.
Then we get to put our yuri goggles on and the OP becomes prophetic; Madoka falls out of the sky and forces Homura back into stuttery Megahomu mode. She collides with Homura and jars her back to humanity. This is also where we get one of two contentious parts: what Madoka means in her little dialogue. According to the booklet, Madoka is Madoka, but she's also Homura's Platonic Ideal of Madoka. Chiwa Saito referred to her as "a greatest hits album made by your biggest fan". So on one hand, you can read it as an innocent Madoka feeling remorse for her wish. On the other, you can read it as Homura indirectly forcing Madoka to tell her what she wants to hear.
I see it as somewhere in the middle. Homura did all this so she could see Madoka the person again. Madoka the person still has the essence of Madoka the concept and the wisdom of omniscience. Omniscient hindsight is 20/10 and realizes that a lot of people really do miss her now that she's gone. She's telling Homura what she wants to hear, but she's doing it to try and absolve Homura of her grief; notice Madoka is trying to tie Homura's hair back into braids. She's trying to get back the sweet, human Homura. Unfortunately, she may very well have killed it for good. There is a literal spotlight put on Homura's "oh god what the fuck" face as the flowers die. Everything Homura believed, the little consolations she told herself went up in flames.
There's no coming back from that, but there is moving on from it. This is the point where Homura can no longer hold back her emotions, can no longer fake being detached. She stains her world purple, denies herself succor from Madoka and goes to prove to herself what she already knows. She's a monster. If this were actually EoE, she'd have a mysterious white liquid on her hand.
So she tries to kill herself. We know that separation from a Soul Gem causes the body to die. Homura is willing to do this to herself. But the time for death has long past; the owls are literally coming home to roost. She's a Witch. It's her fault. It's always her fault. Her reality is going down in flames around her, the zeppelins that kept the status quo have turned into horrific Hindenburg Jack 'o' Lanterns. She shoots her Soul Gem, shoots herself for real, and the Higanbana start to bloom. She's stuck on the near shore, stuck in a world of her twisted desires. She can't even rely on the release of death. And an actual labyrinth rises up to meet her.
Now this is where we start to get trippy. Homura's familiars all represent different aspects of herself and I feel I need to explain what (I think) they mean. First you've got those adorable Megahomus in Beefeater hats. That's Homura's fighting spirit, footsoldiers in her endless battle. They are led by Nightmare plushie officers, the agents of her delusion. You have the crows/ravens, confused by Japanese and considered wicked birds and/or flesh eaters. They're also foreshadowing Akuhomu's Princess Krahe look. Then you have those weird bitey discs, which are her shield (and her wish) biting her in the ass. There are the zeppelins, which protect the status quo. Finally, there are those creepy kids, Homura's childhood innocence gone feral. They just want to play and frolic and they turn against Homura when she doesn't let them. They throw tomatoes, which we should all know is the old school way to show your play/movie/act sucks.
Homura is surrounded by her fractured psyche, stuffed in a drawer and laying in her hospital bed. She's sick, really sick, sick in so many ways and Kyubey just twists the knife because Bunnycat's a dick. As Kyubey shatters Homura's reality verbally, the Beefeater Homus start physically shattering Homura's reality. She's attacking herself. Once Homura makes the connection that they're going to take her Madoka, she snaps. The red strings of fate actually tear her apart.
I get to make another Evangelion reference in the warped version of the cheek-rubbing scene; Madoka stands in a crucifixion pose and splats into Pink Lemonade Tang. Homura, in her altered state, sees Madoka's wish for what it was. Martyrdom. She didn't want a martyr, she wanted a friend and she fucked it up. She smashes Megahomu into Tang with her fist, venting all her frustration while elongated Megahomus judge her. At this point, she's trapped in a sneaky hate spiral: Serious Homu hates Megahomu's weakness and Megahomu hates Serious Homu's failure.
After that, it's all over but the crying. Homura does do one sorta-noble thing in all this, however. She is willing to basically commit hara-kiri to save Madoka and trusts Mami/Kyouko enough to be her kaishaku-nin. Or to be less weeb: she trusts Mami and Kyouko to be her executioners, since she's already judged herself guilty and sentenced herself to death. That's why Homuliliy's hands are in stocks and why the guillotine's there. Homura is willing to deny herself salvation for the sake of others, like Madoka is willing to deny herself existence/happiness for the sake of others. The black drops smashing all the white, reaching Homus is symbolic of Homura's self-flagellation. The sad thing about this is she has all the others rushing to save her as she damns herself.
Interesting thing to note: Homura is fully conscious when she Witches out. She is totally cognizant of what she's doing and what she's becoming. The added parts to Homulilly (the face falling off and the teeth) are on some Freudian shit. She walks like a convicted witch who's already met the headsman. The teeth she cries are either an expression of sin and suffering (weeping and gnashing of teeth) or a dreamscape representation of fear, failure and impotence. If Witches are the neuroses of a Magical Girl writ large, Homura's sticking point is "I hate myself and I want to die".
Fun fact about Homulilly: on Homura's final bus ride, the futuristic transit signs actually turn into Homulilly's new card info. Here it is:
Good for nothing (出来損ない Deki sokonai)
Completely failed in the end (成り損なう Nari sokonau)
A foolish appearance (間抜けな姿 Manukena sugata)
Nutcracker Witch (くるみ割りの魔女 Kurumi-wari no majo) i.e. The Nutcracker to Octavia's Little Mermaid
Its nature is (性質は Seishitsu wa)
self-contained (自己完結 Jiko Kanketsu)
You are always a (いつもお前は Itsumo omae wa)
Laughingstock (笑いもん Warai mon)
...Yeah. Homuhomu is not a happy camper. But that's fine, because everybody else is coming to save her! Hooray! They won't even fall for Kyubey being a dick! Right before the KyouSaya fanservice part, Sayaka says something really important: she yells at Homulilly to "Stop trying to take this all on by yourself!" She knows what that's like and she knows that it only ends in tears. Even Sayaka cares about Homura's well being now. She has all these wonderful people who want to help her and she tells them to stop. She fights them off.
There are two ways of looking at that as well. There's the plot-focused view, where if they succeed it looks like Kyubey wins and there's the emotion-focused view, which says Homura is incredibly depressed and just wants to end it. Either way, Homura wants to finish things herself the only way she knows how. That's why the scene switches back and forth to the place where Homuhomu had to put Madoka down like Old Yeller; she's about to do the same to her emotions, to her weakness. This is symbolic suicide attempt number four. But Madoka, beaten, bruised, but brave, reaches out to her. She is still Penitent Gretchen from Faust, the Eternal Feminine. I'll let wikipedia take over:
The Eternal Feminine is a conceptual ideal was particularly vivid in the 19th century, when women were often depicted as angelic, responsible for drawing men upward on a moral and spiritual path. Among those virtues variously regarded as essentially feminine are modesty, gracefulness, purity, delicacy, civility, compliancy, reticence, chastity, affability, and politeness. The concept of the "Eternal Feminine" (German, das Ewig-Weibliche) was particularly important to Goethe, who introduces it at the end of Faust, Part 2. For Goethe, "woman" symbolized pure contemplation, in contrast to masculine action
Madoka, once again, lifts Homura up onto her feet and they double-team Homura's negative emotions. One of which is the overwhelming desire to have Madoka. They make a huge ass bow and enact the lyrics from Magia damn near word for word. They day is saved, the Incubators explode and Madokami comes down from the heavens, having jacked one of Walpurgisnacht's elephant carriages because Gekidan InuCurry. If the movie ended right here, more fans would've gone home happy, I wouldn't be writing this, and this movie would be straight fanservice.
"Now wait, MadRhetoric," you say, "Homura goes totally yandere on Madoka five minutes from now, how can she have defeated Homura's negative emotions?" To which I say shut up and keep reading. And she's not yandere. She's yanderu (crazy) and deredere (lovey-dovey) for Madoka, but never the twain shall meet. Even though she gains the power of love because she's been driven insane. And she tears Madoka apart. It's complicated.
Think of it this way: Madoka is the Don of the Madoka*Mafia. Homura is her bodyguard. So are Sayaka and Nagisa. Kyubey is a rival boss who wants to take out the Don and run Mitakihara. Homura needs to get the Don into the witness protection program, but Sayaka and Nagisa aren't going to let that happen. So Homura pulls a "double-cross" and absconds with Madoka, taking over as Don. Homura won't take any shit from Kyubey or his goons, so she breaks Kyubey's gang utterly and makes them work for her. You have to be a crazy motherfucker to do something like this, but you also have to have enough tenderness in your heart to want to save someone from that life to do it as well. This also gives Homura a nice little reason to justify her self-hatred even though she kinda sorta saved everybody. She tore Madoka apart and betrayed her trust. She defied and defiled her god for the sake of love. So even though Homura isn't a Luciferian figure, if you could talk to her I'd bet cash money she'd see herself as one. She's at least a devil greater than Kyubey as Mephistopheles, which she rubs in its face.
One fun, blink and you'll miss it thing bridging that scene to the next scene: there's a filmstrip image of the Old Yeller scene that catches fire and burns away. That aspect of MadoMagi, of Homura's life is gone now.
(Fucking) Finally, we get to the ending. Witches and Megucas living together, creepy children in the streets, Goth Homu drinking lean, pandemonium. Sayaka, obviously, is freaking the fuck out because nobody knows what she just did but it messed with Madoka so it has to be bad. Homura, instead of explaining things, antagonizes Sayaka. She does this weird little thing with her hands that mimics what the Homus looking for salvation did in her labyrinth. You could read that, as well as Homura goading Sayaka to think of her as a devil as an attempt at salvation. If she can't be the good guy, she'll be the bad guy. If other people can't see how much of a devil she is inside, she'll become the devil itself. Note that the creepy children familiars throw tomatoes at her here too; they don't like the act she's putting on. Given the bags under her dead fish eyes (even when she's vamping it up as Akuhomu), Homura doesn't like it much either. But as long as Madoka's happy, she's happy.
She still can't win though, even when she rigs the "make Madoka like me" game by blanking Sayaka, making Madoka a transfer student and being the one to lead her around. Madoka damn near Gods out right there, showing that Homura is still fallible and the Law of Cycles still exists. It takes Homura being honest with herself to stop Madoka from doing what she's hardwired to do. To do so, she does something she should've done ages ago and hugs Madoka. Homura talks to her, asks her opinion on what Homura did (note the parallel to episode 1). She's asking Madoka two loaded questions like Sayaka did in the barrier: Are you happy and did I do wrong? Madoka gives her a straightforward answer: unfortunately again it's yes to both. That breaks Homura's heart one final time as her God has forsaken her.
Homura hands back the symbol of faith (Madoka's ribbons) and tells her she looks better as she is/was/should be. She fucked up yet again, but can take solace in the fact that Madoka's happy. She doesn't deserve Madoka's love, she doesn't deserve to be Madoka's friend, but she won. She got to meet Madoka again. She got to protect Madoka instead of being protected by Madoka. Her wish was granted. The nightmare is over and there's good dreams for all; the graffiti says it so it must be true. Sure she's a devil, but she can take being hated. She's not the hero they need (Madoka), but the hero they deserve.
The ED is about the movie too, but a summary instead of a prologue. Notably, it ends with Madoka and Homura running off into the distance holding hands, Man and Nature in harmony. But then the post-credits scene happens and everyone's like what the fuck. I've talked about this before, but it's symbolic of severance. Akemi Homura: Protector of Madoka, Madoka's Greatest Friend, the creepy love-sick badass time traveler, the cause of and solution to all of MadoMagi's problems, is dead. Homura killed her and broke the beast that spawned her (Kyubey). She can face oblivion with a smile now, becoming a devil has set her free. Nobody will miss her, nobody will mourn her, everybody's happier without her. She can finally die.
Now, when they milk this cash cow for some more money, you'll probably get a Homura with pigtails and no glasses, a Homura with glasses and straight hair, or a Homura with a haircut like Murderface from Magical Girl Noir Quest. Either way, it will be a symbolic rebirth of Homura, like the different ribbons was symbolic of a new Madoka.
Extra posts -
* More on why Homura is not yandere:
Madoka and Homura are two sides of the same coin. They both are shy and kind-hearted, and being a magical girl gives them purpose and strength. They both don't really like themselves that much, but they love other people and hate that the thing that makes them feel good hurts others. They both write themselves out of the picture to "fix" things for everybody else. Only difference is Homura can take the bitter emotions because she's always been gloomy and is used to crushing despair and loneliness.
The thing that make Homura go crazy is the opposite of yandere desire. A yandere hurts for love; Homura snaps because her love hurt Madoka. In her mind, because she was a creepy stalker who couldn't beat Walpurgisnacht, Madoka had to do something she didn't want to bail out Homura and to make the deaths of every other meguca not be in vain.
When it's on Homura to make the choice, she chooses death. She sees herself as the final, worst Witch that is allowing Madoka to be subverted and Witches must be vanquished. When Madoka and Sayaka are too awesome to let her die, she becomes something that will make them want to kill her. A lot of the weird rune and Witch stuff that follows her around deals with death. I'm half sure the weird kid familiars are chanting "Tod, Tod" and "das ist tod" when Homura's like "I'll become a Witch". That's "death, death, that is death". One of the rune cards in Homu's transformation says "I wish for death. Death is glory," if I recall correctly.
The snatching scene the only part of the script that gets shaky (Sayaka was right there when Kyubey was trying to fuck things up; Homura could explain her plan and Sayaka'd probably be down), but if you take into account Homura's mindstate at the time, it makes sense. Homura just came out of being a Witch that demanded to be punished, after willfully damning herself to a life without salvation. Once she crossed that line, she could take on all sin with a smile, since she's already the worst of sinners. Getting to hear Madoka's real spit in the dream world was fulfillment of her wish. It is the only selfishness she allows herself in taking Madoka and she hates herself for it after. I would not be surprised if tumblrites read the severance scene as sexual or rapey.
A yandere wants only to possess the object of their affection and will kill to keep it. Homura does snatch the human part of Madoka, but acknowledges Madoka's desire and duty even if it means they can never be together. An actual yandere Homu would snatch Madokami and freeze time in an eternal embrace. Instead, she chooses severance and oblivion. Nobody would mind if she sacrificed herself and disappeared, so she did.
* How Homura attained Madokami's power:
First off, "I want to redo my meeting with Madoka, not where she's the one protecting me, but I'm the one protecting her" was good enough to give her a repeatable time reset. It was a plot point in both the series and the movies that the accumulated karma of the timelines were bound to Homura and Madoka. Madoka's wish was "I want to defeat all Witches, past, present, and future, with my own hands". That made her a concept as a side effect because Bunnycat's a dick/bittersweet Japanese endings.
Second: Homura just got pulled out of being a liminal state of Witchdom after forcing herself to transform into a Witch. The rules have already been broken, buggered and humbled. Homura knows that Madoka is still in danger after what Kyubey dropped on her and Homura is still being saved by Madoka, which is still against the tenets of her wish. So Homuhomu, given the amount of karma she had and the raw magical power she displayed at the end of Eternal/the epilogue of episode 12, combined with whatever being a pressure cooker Witch does to a meguca gave her the power to effectively Witch Labyrinth the known universe.
Third: She didn't over-ride anything, she straight up tore Madoka Kaname the person from Madokami the Law of Cycles. She didn't even do a good job, since Madoka Kaname was about to go right back to being Madokami.
Finally: Just because Madoka wasn't despairing doesn't mean it still doesn't suck being isolated from regular humanity. Madoka the person is willing to do anything to make people happy, even becoming a concept. Homura is willing to do anything to make Madoka happy, even if by force.
* Homura antagonizing the other girls:
There's a writer's way to read that and there's a person who cares way too much about the minds of fictional character's way to read that. The writer's way is the way that's backed up by Chrono and other people getting mad about this movie: make Homura look as bad as possible as fast as possible so people buy her being the next major antagonist. If you do it fast enough, you can capitalize on the betrayal the fans feel at the change and create more antipathy for the character. So that's why I can't really pop off on people who don't like this ending because that means the writers did their job. On a basic level, people like you and me who explain Homura aren't engaging with the text the way the authors seemed to intend. That's kind of the point of deconstruction as critique; pointing out the bits where a work contradicts what its intentions seem to be.
As a person who cares way too much about the minds of fictional characters, it's like I said before. Homura wants everyone to hate her like she hates herself. Especially Sayaka, who understands her better than she'd like to admit. Sayaka fought the good fight for selfish love, lost her love to another because she couldn't face her true feelings, then went mad and became a monster. Homura fought the good fight for selfish (platonic) love, lost her love to the universe because she couldn't face her true feelings, then went mad and became a monster. The two Fausts have traveled the same road and reached the same ends, only Sayaka let their shared Gretchen (Madoka) do her thing after she had already been damned. This is why Sayaka specifically saves Homura like she did Madoka. She's honestly trying to help someone in the same position. This could also be one of the reasons she's so pissed beyond "what did you do to Madoka"; she denied salvation for no explained reason. She, of her own volition, went Marlowe's Faust when she was Goethe's Faust. Fuck, man, she even made herself Mephistopheles come to claim her own soul after she made the original Mephistopheles (Kyubey) her bitch. That's some hardcore self-hate. Homura needs Prozac like Shinji and Asuka need Prozac.