If you’re at the midnight premiere of Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (well, technically, a 10 p.m. Thursday night show) chances are you’re already more than familiar about what exactly goes down in the finale of the vampire saga. With my colleagues Lanford Beard (who was coming off an all-day Twilight marathon) and Denise Warner, we braved the first public showtime in Manhattan alongside a – no surprise – sold-out crowd. More surprising was how adult and costume-free our group seemed to be.

While our theater clearly was audibly buzzing with anticipation, the dirty little secret is that in the book, not a whole heck of a lot happens in the second half of Breaking Dawn. There’s a Volturi battle, and an arm-wrestling match (What big muscles you have, Emmett!), but there’s also a ton of contemplative stares and thoughts on Jacob’s relationship with Renesmee. So you can forgive fans for being a little skeptical, albeit excited, when I asked them for their thoughts prior to the final film release.

First up was a giggly trio of friends who ID’d themselves as “let’s say right around [age] 30” that I caught up with in line at the concession stand. Like a lot of fans I spoke with, Charity Worrell has been a long-time Twi-hard – and the experiences she had with her friends obsessing over the trio are what she’s going to miss most about this whole phenomenon. “We watched them all in row, all together just before [coming here],” she shared.

Worrell’s friends said that the part they were most looking forward to was the ending. “In the book, the ending, when [Edward] can finally see into [Bella’s] mind. That was my favorite part of the book. It made me cry,” Angela Park said. The other woman in their group, Kristina Gianakos, just laughed: “I didn’t read the books! So, I just want to see [Edward and Bella] make out a lot!” Spoiler alert: She gets her wish.

Another group of friends was concerned about how some of the book plots were going to unfold. “I think when Jacob falls in love with the child [is the scene I’m most curious about.] She’s so young. And [Jacob] loved Bella! I think it’s going to be hit or miss. They can either pull it off or they can’t. … I think [the producers] will make it look cheesy,” fan Keri Shean speculated right before the movie started.

And then, just like that, after a battle and a love story concluded, the franchise was done. No more “Team” T-shirts. No more shirtless Jacob. No more Cullen Family Baseball. Critics have had their say (read EW’s review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2) but I was also curious what the people who loved it the most thought about the ending.

After the film, I grabbed people from our screening for a mini-focus group – and, as to be expected, emotions were running high. (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS!) Everyone had lots of thoughts on that big ol’ twist that Kristen Stewart had been talking up in press interviews. During the show there was screaming and lots of freaking out by our audience, but afterwards, fans seemed to like the more visceral final battle between the Cullens and the Volturi — even if it did turn out to be not 100 percent loyal to the book.

“It was crazy,” said one fan. “I kept [turning to my friends and] saying, ‘This better be a dream!’” Another agreed that it was unexpected, but thought the change was for the best. “I think they had to do something, or else it would be really boring.” Yet another chimed in: “I liked the way they ended it. It made more sense to scare [Aro]; that was more climactic than it was in the book.”

Of course, the film also had its dissenters:This one, as compared to the other [movies], supremely more inaccurate. Before the flashback even came. I mean, all of them are comical but as far as accuracy to the books, this one was so different. It wasn’t even an adaptation to the book. It was just its own film,” said fan Katie Ritchey.

But perhaps Ritchey just had a lot of feelings catching up with her at once. She, like many I spoke with, felt that they were saying goodbye to something. “We no longer have a series that we started [together]. Harry Potter, gone. This was like the last thing for us to hold onto. I’m a little bit [nostalgic].”

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Pt. 2
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