The Vampire Diaries episode, “500 Years of Solitude,” was a fitting and surprisingly touching tribute to the teen mom turned vamp vixen, Katherine Pierce/Katerina Petrova who was on her death bed. It exposed how traumatic is was for young Katerina to give up her newborn child and later, to return home and discover that her family had been slaughtered–the direct result of her own self-preservation. The episode made a caustic, callous character sympathetic. At the same time, it paid homage to all of her misdeeds. But, as viewers might have expected, Katherine managed to find a way to outwit death, by using magic to transport herself into Elena Gilbert’s body.

Many fans may have rejoiced at Katherine’s last minute reprieve, even if it was obviously a temporary one. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. With only one vessel and two characters, Katherine was never destined to oust Elena and win this strange game of musical bodies. From the beginning, this plot twist has been tenuously tied together, and it looks like it’s all about to come crashing down in “Gone Girl.” Now that the “Kat is out of the bag,” how will Elena’s friends get her back, and what will happen to Katherine? Is she destined to live on strictly in flashbacks, or do the show’s creators have more surprises in store?

Here’s a look at how Katherine’s body snatching plot twist has played out and where The Vampire Diaries might go from here.

Katherine’s Cross-Over Moment

Ever since Katherine took up residence in Elena’s body, the show has spiraled into a mess of ill-conceived plot lines. Problems began to emerge immediately. The writers skimmed over the fact that aside from a brief sighting of Katherine on her way to the supernatural netherworld, Bonnie never felt Katherine cross over. Bonnie is supposed to have one foot in this world and the other in the purgatory created by Qetsiyah, so how did she miss the fact that Katherine never made the trip?

The Stefan Obsession

Viewers have had to deal with Katherine wasting her second chance at immortality being obsessed with reuniting with Stefan. Instead of a manipulative seductress, she’s been behaving like an annoying school girl. Katherine has always claimed to have truly loved Stefan, and this assertion has been supported by flashbacks. But, she’s never consistently pursued him, even engaging in a short-lived but hot and heavy affair with Original hottie Elijah. It’s understandable that she might have initially thought she stood a better chance wooing him as Elena. After Stefan made it clear that even he was rooting for a Delena reunion, if only for his brother’s sake, her relentless pursuit has just become tiresome. One aborted smooch in a motel room does not a romance make. Katherine has always put her own survival above everything else, so it was completely out of character for her to continue a course of action that became her eventual undoing.

Damon’s Regression

Always one to go off the rails when things don’t go his way emotionally, it was disappointingly predictable that Damon immediately picked up his old habits. It’s a shame there’s no support group for homicidal maniacs with a tendency to fall off the wagon. After Elena’s refusal to reconcile, we’ve watched him regress back into season one Damon, minus the clever quips and devilish grin. One of the show’s most beloved and complex characters, Damon’s evolution from a one-dimensional antagonist to a bad boy with a heart of gold has been a carefully constructed transformation. It’s made him the perfect counterpart to his brooding sibling and a believable love interest for Elena. His heartfelt plea to Elena showed some personal growth and self-actualization.

I would have preferred to see Damon put all his energy into winning back the girl of his dreams. By ding so, he would have likely caught on to Katherine and Nadia’s ruse. Instead, he takes up with a lackluster sidekick and becomes infected with a virus that makes him crave vampire blood.

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Should Katherine Die?

After hanging around long enough to be the catalyst for at least one disastrous story line, Katherine’s secret has been revealed. But will she actually die? There’s no doubt that Elena’s friends will figure out how to get her back. Just because a spell was cast that prevented Elena from emerging and blowing Kitty Kat’s cover, doesn’t mean she was completely vanquished from her own body.

It would be hard to argue against the fact that Katherine has outlived her usefulness. Klaus is preoccupied in New Orleans, so she doesn’t have to come up with schemes to saver her own hide.

This isn’t Sophie’s Choice, so there’s no way Elena will be sacrificed in favor of Katherine. If there was an upside, it would be that she would make a great adversary for Caroline. Katherine could even wind up pushing Stefan and his self-proclaimed sober sponsor closer together. As much as we tune in to The Vampire Diaries to love or hate Katherine, Elena is irreplaceable.

The question is, can fans live without the well-timed appearances of Miss Pierce? Putting her in another existing or new character is a possibility, but it would be an injustice to Nina Dobrev’s sublime interpretation of the vindictive vixen.

Maybe Katherine’s “essence” is released, and she’s temporarily laid to rest. Those Travelers are up to something. After all, they did take a hefty amount of Elena and Stefan’s blood for something. Katherine could also wind up waiting on the other side, dodging in and out as opportunities present themselves.

Katherine could also exist as a recurring hallucination, a gimmick often employed by shows to keep beloved characters in front of the camera by having them be a mental manifestations of someone they left behind.

The least likely scenario is that Katherine does become a passenger in some random stranger. Viewers have already had to play “Guess the Bad Guy” with both Klaus and Silas, so her staying in town on the down low as a perpetual threat won’t happen.

Katherine could leave Mystic Falls to travel the world with Nadia (if she survives her werewolf bite) in tow. The idea of her taking over her own daughter’s body has already been visited and rejected. Plus, the look on Katherine’s face after discovering Nadia’s bite would indicate she’s developed genuine affection for her offspring despite all actions to the contrary.

So, unless there’s another doppelganger floating around somewhere, it looks like Kitty Kat will finally leave the party that she’s lingered at for far too long.

No matter how or when Katherine finally goes, she won’t be forgotten by The Vampire Diaries fans. And if we’ve all learned one thing about Miss Pierce is that she’s a survivor.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8pm on the CW.

(Image courtesy of CW)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.