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I’ve actually entertained a few different theories on the end of Hedwig, but the one I keep coming back to is this:
So Hedwig and Tommy get into the car accident. (This is usually where people’s theories diverge from one another so this is where I’m starting.)
At this point Tommy goes into his whole ‘I’ve never seen her before’ bullshit, but Hedwig is happy. A little. She has vindication and isn’t that what she had wanted? Isn’t that what all of this was about? Not get him back, but to get song writing credit?
No. It was never about that. In fact she would have given him the fucking songs if he had asked her for them. Put his name on as co-writer or given him the sole credit. She wanted to be a musician, but she needed a soulmate.
She needed to feel whole.
Isn’t that what–?
I’ll be fine. This is fine. I can do this. I’m finally being accepted. People believe my part of the story…but why isn’t he acknowledging me? Why can’t he just say he knows me? Why can’t he–?
So she goes to play the Bilgewater’s in Time Square. (Or her show at the Belasco if we’re talking stage canon, but generally I write her as movie Hedwig and my interpretation of the stage ending is a little different, but mostly as it pertains to Tommy.
I can elaborate if you want, just send a follow up ask.)
And she sees the fame and fortune (ish) that she has been denied ever since she was in Berlin and they threw tomatoes at her head. This…isn’t what I wanted. I threw everything away for this and it isn’t what I wanted.
So she tells her story. Whether she wrote it as a song or she straight up tells it to the audience isn’t important. She’s telling her story, but for once it’s devoid of quips and jokes and funny little nods to things she likes. No, Hedwig’s Lament is sad. It’s the song a broken woman sings.
And so she lashes out. But instead of lashing out at her husband or the band (or even her audience) she lashes out at herself. She sees the house she has built for herself and burns it to the ground. She has the mental breakdown she’s been hurtling towards ever since she met Luther because you can take her penis, that’s fine. And you can run out on her for a boy you met at church, that’s fine too.
He was never the one.But what you can’t do is beat her down and wear through her defences, give her love and take it away, leave her b r o k e n and then come back and offer her hope. Oh how she understood in that moment when hope remained in Pandora’s box of curses, it was not a blessing on humanity – it was the ultimate curse.
So she hears Tommy’s song. And whether the apology is real or imagined, it doesn’t matter. Because she hears him apologise for all the shit he put her through and she realizes – he’s not the one she needed either.
She is broken and literally stripped bare in front of the audience and it all becomes so c l e a r – Hedwig doesn’t need Tommy. She doesn’t need Luther. She doesn’t even need Yitzhak – and she certainly doesn’t need to control him. Hedwig doesn’t need any of them. Hedwig needs Hansel.
So she does what Yitzhak asked her to at the beginning of the film. Why don’t you write a new song!?
She writes Midnight Radio and she’s able to release. She releases Yitzhak by giving him the wig and allowing him to be Krystal.
By allowing him to become a butterfly.But she also releases herself. From the pressures of being Hedwig, from denying who she was, from trying to fit into society, from her own expectations of herself and her expectations of her life.
And so she is reborn. Her nakedness (in the film) or her walking into the bright light (on stage) is because she is free. She is new. She is no longer half of a whole, she is the whole. She is her own soulmate.
And she always was.
And if you’re still interested, here’s my post about why I see Hedwig as genderfluid post canon, which I refer to as my Midnight Radio verse even though it’s technically set after it and would more aptly be called something like ‘v; know that you’re whole’.