Kyubey is a creature who maximizes on opportunity – ironically, much like the witches in this World of Puella Magi. I’m sure he knew despite witnessing Mami’s horrible death, Sayaka (and Madoka) have wishes they want fulfilled. Even if they can’t think of any on the spot, they’ll come to mind when things calm down. And in that very moment where one of these girls think, “If only…”
POOF! Kyubey appears.
I certainly wasn’t surprised that Sayaka caved and became a Mahou Shojou; I was a little surprised she became one before Madoka though, but by the end of the episode, I understood the difference in not just personality, but maturity between Sayaka and Madoka. (Not that Sayaka is more mature than Madoka or vice versa, but that their sense of maturity is fundamentally different.) First of all, Sayaka has a clear and obvious “wish” to fulfill; there is a need before her and nothing in the realm of non-magic can satisfy it. I just hope Kyosuke was worth spending her one and only unlimited wish on. The nature of their relationship hasn’t been explored to its fullest yet (like who he is, how they know each other, the nature surrounding his accident) so it’s difficult for us to say whether or not Sayaka’s choice was a wise one – plus we don’t know how it’s going to play out.
Madoka, on the other hand, spends more time mourning Tomoe Mami. The realization she makes about the life of a Mahou Shojou after visiting Mami’s apartment is profound, only further elaborated on by her conversation with Homura. Death is one dark aspect of being a Puella Magi, but that event is instantaneous. Living the life of a Puella Magi – experiencing loneliness, distancing yourself from friends, family and relatives, the limitations of building new relationships, constant deception, having the bulk of the purpose of your life dictated by someone else, physical and mental distress, the lack of sleep – is on-going and gruelling. What really resonated within me about the Life of a Puella Magi is that every Mahou Shojou who dies at the hands of a witch is classified as a “missing girl”. And not only are they “missing”, but because of the distance between Magical Girls and their relatives (and presumably friends), their disappearance is never reported immediately. (This also conveniently answers the question: Won’t someone notice that Mami is missing? She’s already expressed her lack of close friends and comrades, and in this episode, we learn she doesn’t have any close family. No one will be missing Mami.) In this way, Homura reiterates her initial warning to Madoka: If Madoka cherishes the life she has, the family she has, the friends she has, then she should not become a Magical Girl.
Another character by the name of Kyoko is introduced at the end of the episode. It seems that the city that Mami had dominated for a long time is quite the hot bed for witches. Even though the newly contracted Mahou Sayaka could take over Mami’s territory, Kyoko isn’t about to leave town without a fight. I know, I know: What about Homura? I think the reason why Homura is discounted is because she probably spends most of her time tracking Kyubey around, either trying to kill him or detract other girls from contracting with him (or both).
I’ve finally figured out what Kyubey is: Kyubey is a Mahou Shojou P-I-M-P. Not just because he gathers girls and puts them to work doing a job that puts their lives on the line, but because he sees the whole system as a business. When he was talking to Sayaka and Madoka on the school roof, he talks about Grief Seeds as payment. Mahou Shojou work – battle and defeat witches – for Grief Seeds. Forming a contract with Kyubey is committing yourself to a life-long career there is no quitting from. The wish he grants you is your one-time bonus upon entry. From then on out, you fight witches and compete with your colleagues for your livelihood. Or, according to Homura’s perspective, Mahou Shojou hunt and fight witches to pay for their wish.
I wonder how many more episodes it will take for Madoka to reach a point where she decides to be a Mahou Shojou. Seeing Hitomi with a witch hickey no doubt reminded her of the important role Mahou Shojou play, but whether or not she can see herself as the Mahou Shojou saving all those people is another story.