Peter is Iago
But wow, I’ve never fully thought that through until just now.
Jeff has said it all along, and it’s been like my favorite twcharacter-classic character comparison - because I’ve always loved Iago the best.
For those of you that are missing out on the joys of life and haven’t read Othello, Iago was the villain. He was a great villain. He was one of Othello’s best friends - his most trusted advisor.
And he was jealous - more jealous than you can imagine. Because Othello had it all - respect, power, perks, and he was getting the girl, too.
So Iago destroyed him. Or rather, he got Othello to destroy himself.
He got into Othello’s ear, manipulated him, played on his fears, his weaknesses, on his own jealousy. He talked Othello into horribly awful decisions based on lies and misinformation, led him into perfectly set traps in which Iago had all of the control, was playing everyone. It was fucking brilliant, let me tell you - seventeen year old me was maybe a bit in love with Iago.
Now, replace Iago with Peter and Othello with Derek. Whenever I’ve thought about Peter/Iago, it’s always been about how Peter is a manipulative little shit. But that’s not the only interesting thing about Iago - the other is that Iago’s main drive was jealousy.
And Peter was jealous - oh, you can see it so clearly in the flashbacks. He was jealous of Derek’s charm and happiness, his light. The fact that everything came so easily to him. And he was especially jealous of Talia and her power. Derek was clearly a favorite of her, her baby boy, and even when he fucked up and got someone killed, she still didn’t think less of him.
And Peter hated it.
So he got Derek to make the greatest mistake of his life - one that would’ve tainted Derek’s and the Hale name among wolves. And as Jeff (not-so-sneakily) pointed out, it seems that Peter was the one that set all of that up - which Iago does several times, allowing the blame to fall on Othello. Peter took that body who knows where. He killed Laura after awaking to find he wasn’t the alpha. He convinced Derek that Laura’s death was an accident. He defied death and returned to convince Derek he was a trusted advisor.
He used Isaac’s memory to convince Derek that he needed to save Boyd and Erica (Cora) on the night of the full moon - when they would be most rabid. He waited until the last moment to warn them about the vault - he knew Derek wouldn’t kill them unless they were a danger to innocents. He knew they had to be released unto Beacon Hills and then he promptly tried to convince Derek to kill Boyd (and Cora).
I think he’s playing double agent - I think he wasn’t satisfied with his place in Talia’s pack. He wanted more recognition, more power. So he played mole, throwing the Hales under the bus via Paige’s death, and subsequently into the Argents’ path, and then he worked with them to take out the Alpha (and maybe even her immediate heirs) - leaving him as the new Alpha of the pack. (check out Ked’s theories here and here.)
But it backfired. The scorpion stung him and took out the entire pack - and he was pissed. He returned to wreck havoc upon Kate and those who worked with her to cover up the fire. He left behind a back-up plan in Lydia and - which he was forced to call upon.
And now he’s playing mole again - working with the Alpha pack. Trying to manipulate Derek into giving into them without showing his hand. They remembered him from before, remembered the untrustworthy sneak he was, and probably promised him a place among them if he resumed his role as mole at Derek’s side.
And in the process, he gets to destroy Derek’s life again. Which, if we remember our Shakespearean literature, is basically the best thing ever.
(also this scene is from the episode where it’s revealed that Peter is the Alpha - and had literally nothing to do with what was going on between Allison in Scott at that moment (though it could arguably also refer to Jackson flirting with her, but that’s not what was happening in that scene.)
One thing I will add is that it was really easy for seventeen year old me to like Iago because he was brilliant and I had no particular affections for any of the people he was destroying. This is so far from the case with Derek and Scott and Lydia, so as much as I love Peter as a character, I’m slowly but surely beginning to hate him and wish he would die :P