Vampires that sparkle, a human/vampire hybrid baby and something called a Volturi -- even a fan would admit that "The Twilight Saga" gets complicated toward the end.
What begins as a pretty standard girl-meets-vampire love story quickly evolves into a girl/vampire/shape-shifter love triangle, one that eventually includes a memorable (as in, we're still trying to forget) at-home birth scene.
All of that leads up to the final "Twilight Saga" installment, "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2." With the final chapter now in theaters, some of you might be in need of a brief refresher. You can always speed-read Stephenie Meyer's four novels or spend at least eight hours watching the first four films, but why do that when we've broken it all down for you here?
Let's start with basics -- what's a Bella Swan?
First, you're forgiven if you have absolutely zero firsthand knowledge about this character. Honestly, it's admirable you've been able to avoid "Twilight" for this long. Slow clap for that.
Isabella "Bella" Swan (Kristen Stewart) is the heart, eyes and voice of "Twilight." At the start of the series she's a 17-year-old girl who relocates from Arizona to Forks, Washington, to live with her dad when her mom remarries.
Bella is awkward and accident-prone and never really feels in step with everyone else, but these are qualities that make her endearing in the "Twilight" world. She quickly falls for ....
The vampire Edward Cullen
Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is a vampire who's been around for the past century, but he's also eternally 17. He lives with his vampire "family" that's been cultivated over the years by "Twilight's" HVIC (head vampire in charge), Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli).
They eat animals rather than humans -- their version of vegetarianism -- and being a vampire for them means sparkling "like diamonds" when in sunlight. Edward can also read minds, with Bella's being the exception, and Alice (Ashley Greene), gets visions about the future.
Meyer certainly puts her own spin on vampire lore, but Edward's still a would-be killer, and he does want to kill Bella at first. (Romance!)
When Bella figures out Edward's secret, she remains pretty calm about his vampirism -- even though he admits to thirsting for her blood, which to him basically smells like doughnuts to a dieter.
Bella + Edward = 4ever
Edward gets over the "I want to eat you" thing as he gets to know Bella and as she's constantly put into life-threatening situations. The ever-present vampires out to kill Bella are problematic, considering that these two say they can't live without one another. They're each other's "personal brand[s] of heroin," if you will, and they're both strung out.
As best we can tell, this sentiment is established after an impromptu dinner date, some chaste sleepovers and Edward saving her from the natural -- an out-of-control car -- and the supernatural -- vampires, including his own brother at Bella's 18th birthday party. By then, Edward can't deal with endangering her all the time and he bails.
Bella falls into deep despair, but soon realizes she can conjure visions of Edward rescuing her if she puts herself in dangerous situations. This leads to a cliff-jumping and near-drowning incident that causes Alice to believe that Bella's dead, and word works its way back to Edward.
Enter the Volturi
The Volturi, which in the movies includes the lovely Dakota Fanning and esteemed Michael Sheen, are a group of lethal (and nattily dressed) vampires who instill a sense of order in "Twilight's" vampire universe and shield it from being exposed. Going against their laws is a great way to get killed.
Since Edward can't bear living without his soulmate Bella, he goes to Volturi home base in Italy on a suicide mission, ready to expose himself as a vampire and attract the Volturi's wrath.
Bella shows up in time to stop Edward, but the Volturi consider her a risk thanks to her extensive knowledge of the vampires' ways. Alice saves her life by revealing a vision that Bella will soon become a vampire, a transformation Bella's wanted since the first movie, anyway. That way she would be with Edward for eternity and never age to boot. Edward, however, is against it -- as is Jacob, the other guy.
Here's where the girl/wolf/vampire triangle comes in
Jacob Black, played by the supremely sculpted Taylor Lautner, is Quileute and has a gene that causes him to shape-shift into a wolf when vampires are in town. His friendship with Bella deepened when Edward left, and his feelings turn romantic.
He makes a strong case for Bella's affections, and by "Eclipse" has the girl so confused she winds up kissing him. To be fair, she was worried about what would happen to him in a standoff between the Cullens and a new army of vamps created by a vengeful Victoria. (She was out for Bella's blood ever since Edward killed her lover James in "Twilight.")
But even after that, Jacob still gets second place to Edward, whom Bella agrees to marry.
The birth from "Twilight" hell