In a beautiful hotel room, a man is enjoying a steak and a glass of red wine, while he describes the perfect meal to his companion. The woman seated across the table from him is bound and gagged; she jumps at every little noise he makes.
At the BAU bullpen in Quantico, Elle is just hanging up the phone. From his desk nearby, Morgan comments on how strange it is that, although she hates the phone, she has made two calls within an hour. Elle tries to distract Morgan by commenting on Reid's ridiculously detailed memory, but he won't be distracted – he believes she has a new boyfriend. The banter goes on as JJ enters the area and leads Reid, Morgan and Elle to the conference room to discuss their next case.
FBI Tampa has been investigating a series of murders along the Gulf Coast. According to Gideon, the SAC in Tampa has a strong lead and DNA evidence – Mark Gregory had killed all four women. Florida authorities need the team - not to identify an unsub - but to find him. He had been able to evade capture and has been missing for 36 hours with a new victim, Nicole Wegner. All his victims had been tortured and drowned in hotel bathrooms, and all were found a few days after their abductions in the same general area. Morgan offers that a serial killer who has been found out has two basic choices: he's either hiding or on the run. Looking at the map, Gideon is worried that Gregory has nothing to lose and has the whole country ahead of him.
JJ hands out case files on the BAU jet, explaining that Gregory is a single white male, 38 years old, and has started his own real estate business. He travels extensively and owns a lavish home in Sarasota, Florida. Before he got into real estate, he raced cars and worked as a chef in a French restaurant – a jack-of-all-trades. When Hotchner describes his background in photography, Reid notes, "Many serial killers make a hobby of photography. It must have something to do with the act of voyeurism." Since all of his accounts have been seized, the team hopes to catch Gregory using one of his credit cards.
Gideon changes the team's focus to the victims as the team arrives at the FBI Temporary Command Center in Sarasota. Gregory had used different forms of torture with each victim, the only constant was that he drowned each one and the victims were alive when they were put in the water: "They could feel their lungs filling up with water – it's an extremely painful way to die." This is an important part of his signature.
FBI SAC Raymond McCarthy enters and introduces himself to the team. He is interested in what they are saying, but more concerned that looking into Gregory's past to discover motives for his actions may not be the best use of their time. Gideon explains they know a lot about the killer's present, but knowing about his past may help them find out where he might go and what he might do next. McCarthy had identified links between Gregory and three of his victims, but could find no connection to the missing girl. The team splits up to cover various aspects of the case and agrees to meet back in two hours.
Hotchner and Elle meet with Gregory's business partner – Hank Bloomberg – who isn't convinced Gregory is the killer they are looking for, although he's disappeared. He'd known Gregory for 10 years and never noticed any odd behavior – he is his best friend. Gregory never had any trouble getting a date, but he was married once in his early twenties and "swore he'd never do it again."
At Gregory's Sarasota home, Reid and Gideon find a "typical bachelor pad. Large sofa, big-screen TV, and white walls." Reid finds a wide variety of clothes in Gregory's closet, from Italian suits to a mechanic's uniform as well as numerous watches. A pile of different drivers' licenses draws Gideon's attention. The two believe Gregory is a chameleon who plays a different role for every deal he makes. Finding uniform catalogs and a disguise kit only confirms their theory.
Back in the hotel, Gregory is drowning his victim in the bathtub, holding her hand up to touch his face as she dies. He then calmly lets in the room service clerk to remove the dishes from the previous night's dinner, telling him his wife was taking a bath.
Garcia, on the phone with Morgan, describes Mark Gregory's criminal record. As a child he was caught peeking in windows, then, at 18, he was arrested for statutory rape. His marriage lasted only 21 days and his ex-wife is still alive, but she is proving hard to find.
FBI agents listen carefully as the team gives them some aspects of Gregory's profile. Based on the disguises found at his home, he can easily acclimate to any situation. Because he had emptied his bank accounts and put his dogs into a kennel. He is not coming back – he is now a spree killer. There are two stages to a spree killer – guided and random. During the guided phase, he stays in the same area to kill – and has a destination in mind. Hotchner describes spree killers Edmund Kemper and Andrew Cunanan, who left their most meaningful kills until last. When the random phase begins, he will lose total control, take more victims and become less noticeable – he'll torture less and spend less time with the victims. The team's concern is evident when Hotchner receives word that the latest victim's body has been found in Georgia.
Apparently, Gregory has a larger comfort zone than anticipated – he has set up businesses all over the Southeast. The search has become nationwide. Gregory had checked into the last hotel using his own name – not to taunt the police - but because he knows this is a one-way trip. There is no point in covering his tracks, which would only slow him down. With the amount of money he has, he can go anywhere. "He's not hiding, he's hunting," adds Gideon. Most spree killings end in "suicide by cop," and that may be how he plans on getting out of this.
Elle and Morgan examine the hotel room where Nicole Wegner was killed. They find he had lured her using a photography ruse and he is surely on the lookout for another victim.
The busy parking garage at Atlanta International Airport is full of potential victims for Gregory, who is now wearing a pilot's uniform.
Garcia calls Hotchner to tell him she's found Gregory's ex-wife, who still lives in Florida. When she's brought to the Command Center, she is surprised that they were able to find her – she had been hiding, fearing Gregory would come looking for her. During their short marriage, he was controlling and insisted that she was cheating on him with everyone she met – he barely let her leave the house. Hotchner notes that, since he dated his first victim, she may have cheated on him, thus starting his murders.
Mr. Gregory, Mark's father, tells Gideon and Reid that he can't believe his son is responsible for any killings. Even when they tell him that his son has only let him see his good side, he is not convinced. Mr. Gregory tells them his son was always good at fitting in, no matter how many times they moved. Glancing around the room at the many photos - of Mark as a boy, of Mr. Gregory - Gideon notes, "Mark's mother isn't in any of the photos." She died in a car accident when Mark was 10. Reid is surprised. When a child loses his mother, he is more likely to see women as victims and want to protect them when he grows up, taking out any anger on father figures. When Gideon wonders if a sense of abandonment had fueled Mark's desire to peek in windows as a child, Mr. Gregory dismisses any failings of his son – from the voyeurism to the charges of statutory rape. Gideon asks, "Did Mark ever have to take responsibility for anything?" He tells Mr. Gregory that making excuses for Mark "didn't do him any favors."
In another hotel room, Gregory revives his unconscious victim, assuring her she'll be okay. When she wakes up, he takes her into the bathroom and drowns her.
Garcia lets the team know she's located Gregory's vehicle in a parking garage at the Atlanta airport. Running Face Recognition Software against the security footage, she finds video of Gregory that she uploads to them. Gideon, Reid and Hotchner watch as Gregory helps a woman with her luggage, and then accepts a ride from her. JJ holds a press conference, warning the women of the country about Gregory – how he used a pilot's uniform in order to make his victim feel safe. She explains about his use of disguises, his photography ruse, his credentials, his confidence, and how he appears to be trustworthy and charming. Meanwhile, Gregory dons thick glasses and a worker's uniform, and effecting a limp.
The drowning is the key – Gregory's need to purge or cleanse something in himself leads him to drown his victims. Gideon calls Elle who is on the road with Morgan in Georgia. He sends them to South Carolina to the scene of the latest drowning.
After Reid concentrates on victim photos, the map and other evidence, he tells Gideon his concerns about the information that has been given to the press. While Gregory had always pursued his victims with confidence and elaborate ruses, their investigation of him may have caused him to change his pattern. They don't know how he might approach his next victim.
When Elle and Morgan arrive at the last scene, they realize Gregory has devolved and is now in the random phase of his kills. The motel is cheap and seedy, and he spent little time with his victim. The manager recognizes a photo of Gregory and tells them he was driving a black SUV with South Carolina plates.
Garcia has discovered that, at the age of 10, Mark Gregory was actually in the car with his mother when she had the accident that killed her. Gideon and Reid head back to Gregory's father's house to see what else he didn't tell them.
In a grocery store parking lot, Gregory, in his new role as a limping, simple man, gets some help carrying his bags from a pretty young girl.
Gideon is angry and frustrated with Mr. Gregory when he says he "didn't think it was important" to tell them Mark was in the car and witnessed his mother's death. Gideon and Reid question Mr. Gregory's relationship with his wife, explaining that Mark's marriage only lasted 21 days because he was obsessed that she might be unfaithful to him. He finally admits that Mark's mother was unfaithful, and would take Mark with her to motels when she had affairs and let him play by the pool. Mark was clearly aware of the situation. His first victim was having an affair with him, leading him to strike out at her. "Do you think your wife's death was an accident?" Gideon asks him. "Your son did what you thought about doing hundreds of times. Your son might be trying to stand up for you in his own sick, demented way." He begs Mr. Gregory to help them find him before he kills more women, then rushes out.
Mark Gregory drags the woman from the grocery store out of his car, and into a motel pool, struggling to hold her under. A motel worker arrives and Gregory claims "his wife" fell into the pool and he is trying to rescue her. The man pulls her from the pool and begins CPR, telling Gregory to go call 9-1-1. He revives her, and she clings to him – Gregory has run off.
Hotchner wonders if looking for suspicious drownings is another way to find Gregory. He and Garcia discuss the large number of drownings that take place every year – approximately 17 per day. Garcia is able to find the near-drowning of the grocery clerk in the motel pool in Tennessee. The woman identified Gregory as her attacker.
In a phone conference, Gideon lets everyone know that Gregory's mother was probably his first victim - he may have caused the car to crash. Garcia goes back over every shred of evidence from the crash that caused his mother's death. Hotchner is worried that Gregory is now snatching victims immediately after one another – they have to find something that will tell them where he's going. Elle and Morgan admit that they are falling behind – they can't seem to get ahead of him. Just a few minutes later they learn he's taken another victim from a mall parking lot only 10 minutes away from the last motel.
Garcia finally finds the coroner's report on Gregory's mother: she died from drowning. "What would cause a taller mother to drown and a smaller child to survive?" Reid asks. The disturbing answer is that Gregory held his mother's head under the water. The team knows Gregory will take this latest victim to the nearest body of water – Rock Creek in Copperhill, Tennessee – where Elle and Morgan are: the site of the original accident and his mother's death.
Elle and Morgan arrive at Rock Creek, and begin the search. Gregory accuses the woman in the car, Kelly Dalton, of being a cheater, and she abruptly turns the wheel, causing the car to run down an embankment and crash. The horn sounds – and Elle and Morgan head towards the sound. Kelly crawls out of the car and runs from Gregory, but he catches up to her and drags her to the water. Morgan and Elle find the crashed car and head to the water with local law enforcement following. Kelly fights and screams, but Gregory pushes her into the water and holds her down. Still fighting, she grabs a pipe from the bed of the creek and hits him with it, trying to get away. Morgan and Elle get there just as Gregory has thrown his arm back, ready to hit his victim with the pipe. He hesitates, then continues his motion. Morgan shoots him. Gregory is dead and the woman is safe.
Mr. Gregory is left alone with his guilt and his memories.