Spoiler warning: Plot details from the final "Harry Potter" book are ahead.
When the decision was made to cleave "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" into two movies, it was easy to see it as a unnecessary, commercially motivated move. After all, there was no natural mid-story cliffhanger to point to, and wasn't there quite a bit of mid-book wandering and narrative boondoggling that could have easily been cut? It's an attitude fostered by six previous film adaptations that continued to clock in at relatively lean running times, given the expanding girth of J.K. Rowling's novels.
Of course, to keep the earlier films at two-and-a-half hours or less, sacrifices had to be made. Subplots had to be excised; beloved characters had their arcs abbreviated. This is a fact of life when adapting books into movies. And it's likely that fattier versions of the films would not have played as well. But now that the films are in the home stretch, and the "Potter" story has played out fully in book form, a two-part finale offers a prime opportunity to pay tribute to Rowling's wide, wide world. But with this expanded ending, there are certain scenes Potter fans are going to expect to see.
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Bill and Fleur's wedding
Ron's older, cooler brother, Bill Weasley, is present in every novel from the fourth one, even suffering severe battle wounds fighting at Harry's side at the end of "Half-Blood Prince," and yet has never appeared in any of the movies. In the final book, Bill weds Fleur Delacour, one of Harry's competitors from the Triwizard tournament, who hasn't been seen in the movies since. Bill and Fleur's wedding acts as a launching pad for the action of the final novel, as a Death Eaters raid on the reception sends Harry, Ron, and Hermione off on their journey. Obviously, that moment will be present in the movie in some form, but it would be nice if it's more than just an inciting incident.
Revisiting Dolores Umbridge
Harry and Co.'s raid on the Ministry of Magic — to take from Umbridge a locket that turns out to be one of six "horcruxes," i.e. pieces of Voldemort's soul that must be destroyed — will clearly be featured in the film. Which is a very good thing, because Umbridge and the ministry were the two best creations of director David Yates's first "Potter" film, "Order of the Phoenix." Yates's depiction of the ministry, all black mirror glass and intimidatingly long corridors, made it the perfect setting for battle. And battle they surely will. We just hope there's time for some of Imelda Staunton's signature sweet-n-sadistic take on Umbridge, one of the best performances in the entire series.
Luna, Neville, and McGonagall get their moments
The tertiary characters have always been a strength of Rowling's books, even if they get shorter shrift in the movies. But one would hope that with two movies to work with, Yates can find time for Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and Professor McGonagall to have their moments in the sun. Rowling crafted climactic moments for all three: Neville actually destroys the final horcrux, slaying Voldemort's deadly pet snake. McGonagall has a hellacious duel with Severus Snape that shocks even Harry. And while Luna doesn't get a singular action moment, it's tough to imagine the series could end without Evanna Lynch getting to take a bow as Hogwarts' singular space cadet.
The house elves take a bow
The ongoing saga of the house elves resonates strongly with the novels' themes of inclusion and equal treatment for all creatures. But while each book since the second has included some house-elf content (often in the guise of Hermione's humorless elf-rights campaigns), they've been mostly absent from the films. Before "Deathly Hallows" was published, Rowling reportedly instructed Yates to keep the house elf Kreacher in the "Order of the Phoenix" movie, knowing he plays a pivotal role in the finale. But it's the final appearance of Dobby, the Harry-worshipping elf last seen in the second film, that will get tears streaming out from under those 3-D glasses. (Yes, the final two movies will be in 3-D. No, we don't want to talk about it.)
Hermione goes undercover
A pivotal chapter in the latter half of "Deathly Hallows" sees Harry and Co. sneaking into a vault at Gringotts wizarding bank. To do so, they have to disguise themselves. So Hermione uses the ol' polyjuice potion (there is a LOT of polyjuice action in this last book; it's like "Harry Potter and the Polyjuice Potion and Also Lots of Talk About Wands") to disguise herself as the vault's owner: Bellatrix Lestrange. Time to get excited. Helena Bonham Carter's unhinged performance as the enthusiastically wicked Bella did the rare trick of improving what was on the page; it should be a treat to see her play the composed Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix.
‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!’
The moment sweet, motherly Molly Weasley bellows the above line and steps up to duel Bellatrix is easily the biggest crowd-pleaser in the book, if not the series. There's almost no way it doesn't make it into the film, but it's still fun to anticipate. And with Julie Walters getting to deliver such a get-up-and-cheer moment, it should be a great way to pay off the dozens of accomplished British actors — from Miranda Richardson to Jim Broadbent to Emma Thompson and many more — who took tiny roles and nestled themselves into the ensemble in order to be part of the Potter universe. For fans of the books, those of us who already know how it ends, it's grace notes like these that will make the final movies something special.
Joe Reid is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.