So I’m rewatching Hannibal s2 again and thinking about Peter Bernadone, his social worker, The Horse, and mirroring.
I think it’s pretty widely accepted that Peter is a Will mirror? and the social worker is a weak Hannibal mirror. This particular pair of mirrors is used specifically to point out a few things about, you guessed it, Will and Hannibal’s relationship:
1) Will is still deeply hurt and pissed™ at Hannibal for lying to him and framing him, and he states why when he asks Peter about having a “shadow” - someone you trusted, who took advantage?, a friend you thought was on your side and who understood you where others haven’t. It /matters/ that will’s beef with Hannibal is personal and not, ya know, based on like morality or more universal concepts of good and evil.
2) Will assumes Peter killed his social worker because it’s what he would do to Hannibal if given the opportunity… right? Well umm not exactly. Will could have shot Hannibal in his kitchen, but he walked away. Peter could have killed his social worker, but he didn’t. And he tells Will why. Peter never wanted to kill the social worker/serial killer, he just wanted him to suffer as he had made others suffer. Specifically? Peter wanted him to suffocate. So he sewed him into a horse. Which is why Peter being a Will mirror is so awesome, because…
The very next episode starts with Will’s wet dream about strangling (suffocating) Hannibal with a rope cinched by the harnessed ravenstag, which is honestly looking quite horse-like in Will’s dream sequence. Inspired by Peter, huh Will? And that’s the scene in which Will tells himself via Dream-Hannibal that if he wants to really understand Hannibal he’s gonna have to,, oops,,, let himself love him. Pretty big turning point and obviously massive foreshadowing with huge payoff in twotl. Will’s not quite there yet, but he’s thinking about it in his erotic bondage dreams. *insert shrug emoji*
But back to Peter and his desire to make the social worker suffer in the way his victims did. This mirrors Will’s plans for Hannibal in an even more metaphorical way. Will really did kind of drown, suffocate in s1 (all that water) - and it was arguably all Hannibal’s fault. And remember that Will’s anger with Hannibal is really just personal. It comes from betrayal, and really isn’t about the serial killing cannibal bit. Hannibal hurt Will as only a friend can hurt another. Will wants to give that back to him. “Resume my therapy” my ass - Will’s trying to figure out if Hannibal has /a heart that he can break/ (“why not appeal to my better nature?”) then he’ll feel what Will felt.
Sadly :’( Will gets to break Hannibal’s heart in mizumono, but right on the cusp of not wanting to anymore. That’s where the Peter/Will mirror stops holding up, which really only serves to further point out that a) Will’s not actually a “good moral person” in the widely accepted sense, and b) he was at odds with Hannibal for personal reasons, unlike Peter who only turned on his social worker violently on behalf of the victims of his crimes.
This is why this show is so compelling though?? Years later and I’m still having Deep Thoughts™ about the horse episode. I love looking back and seeing all the ways in which this story was always human, always a complicated “will they/won’t they” romance.
Friday night we were in my room, drinking the night away, and I guess the alcohol got to me because I kissed you and told you I loved you, and the only words that were slurred from your mouth were
you’ll never be what I want