New York City – a city famous for the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and heavy traffic. A man waits nervously to cross the street, glancing around him at the crowds, and notices an armed police officer standing nearby. He hurries away, dashing down the stairs to the A Subway station at 59th Street. Standing in the subway car, he clutches his backpack as his eyes move among the other passengers, pausing for a moment on a young mother with her little girl, a blonde woman wearing headphones, and a woman alone. The passengers notice his glances and look away, uncomfortable. He follows the woman and her daughter from the train at the Spring Street and 6th Avenue stop, calling out for her, but she keeps her head down and pulls her daughter along quickly. Standing alone in the underground as the people hurry off to their busy lives, the man pulls a map from his pocket and studies it. A dark figure wearing a hooded sweatshirt walks up quietly behind him, pulls out a small handgun, and shoots the man in the back of the head. As the lonely tourist crumples to the ground, the hooded figure walks off.
SSA Aaron Hotchner is alone in his office that night at the BAU in Quantico, Virginia, when he receives a call on his cell phone. He assures the caller that everyone on his team is familiar with the case, and asks if anything about the MO has changed with the most recent murder. Early the next morning, JJ is on the phone in her office talking with Lt. Will LaMontagne, and offering to pick him up from the airport. Happily making plans to shop for cribs together, JJ is surprised when Hotchner pokes his head into her office to ask her to get the team together for a briefing. She advises Will to postpone his travel plans. Hotchner is watching a video of the subway shooting when the team arrives in the conference room. He tells them they are going to New York immediately, and Rossi is not surprised - "Five shootings in two weeks, it's about time we got the call." Garcia will be traveling with them to utilize the New York surveillance systems. Quickly giving the team the facts, Hotchner says that all the killings happened at midday, and all victims were shot with a .22 in the back of the head – there are no witnesses. Morgan observes that they sound like mob hits, but none of the victims has any ties to organized crime or any ties to each other. This killer has not tried to make contact with the police, but surveillance cameras have captured images of three of the murders, each one showing a shadowy, hooded figure. The killings seem to be random. "It's Son of Sam all over again," comments Reid.
Voltaire said, "The man visited by ecstasies and visions, who takes dreams for realities, is an enthusiast. The man who supports his madness with murder is a fanatic."
Sitting on the BAU jet, JJ seems pensive. Garcia is excited to be on the jet again, telling Morgan that she doesn't see how this type of flying ever gets old. Rossi, Hotchner, and Reid are discussing victimology, and are dismayed at the apparent disconnect between the victims and between the sites of the shootings. The five shootings took place in different parts of the city: Hell's Kitchen, Murray Hill, Lower East Side, Chinatown and Harlem. The shootings have taken place every two days and the mood of the city is very edgy. SSA Kate Joyner, head of the New York Field Office, is running a joint NYPD-FBI task force and called him directly for help. She has dual US/UK citizenship and was highly regarded at Scotland Yard before joining the FBI. Morgan has heard that she can be difficult to work with, but Hotchner disagrees - he has liaised with her before and feels fortunate to have her on the case.
SSA Joyner walks quickly through the NY Field Office giving directives to her administrative assistant, Shelly, and enters her office just as the BAU arrives. After taking one look at the blonde agent, JJ whispers to Garcia that Joyner looks exactly like Hotchner's ex-wife, Haley. Agent Joyner greets Hotchner warmly, and he introduces her to his team. Joyner seems happy to have the BAU's assistance and tells the agents to ask for anything they need. Garcia immediately asks for access to the new surveillance system, and Agent Joyner tells her the NYPD is expecting her. As Shelly leads Garcia off, two NYPD detectives arrive – Det. Cooper and Brustin - who were assigned to the case after the third shooting when the crimes were linked together. Det. Brustin is gruff, reluctantly working with the FBI. Agent Joyner diplomatically tells the BAU and the NYPD to run everything through her office as there only needs to be "one butt on the line." She asks Hotchner to join her in her office, and Prentiss whispers to JJ that the two "liaised" when Joyner was at Scotland Yard. Morgan seems suspicious.
Behind closed doors, Agent Joyner admits that she is getting resistance from the NYPD. Staring through her office window, she can't seem to take her eyes off of Morgan – who is unashamedly staring back at her. Finally turning to Hotchner she says, "What can you tell me about Derek Morgan?"
Reid and Prentiss have taken Det. Cooper aside to try to determine the cause of his partner's animosity. He explains that calling in the FBI after the fourth murder was a good idea – NYPD could use all of the help they could get – but since then Agent Joyner has completely taken over, even calling in the BAU without any discussion. Prentiss insists that the BAU is a resource, and is only there to help. Det. Cooper tells her to profile him, and after looking her up and down asks "What am I thinking?" She responds, "It's never going to happen." Det. Cooper isn't laughing; there have been five murders, and he's not the least bit interested. He walks away, telling her that he hopes her skills are better than that.
A figure dressed all in gray picks up a hooded sweatshirt and slips it on. He takes a .22 handgun that sits on a table nearby, loads it, and holds it up next to his face before slipping it into his pocket.
Analyst Penelope Garcia has been directed to a small, dark room at the NYPD and introduces herself to Officer Lisa Bartleby. She slips behind the officer's desk and unloads her laptop. Bartleby explains her operating system and other system information dealing with the 4468 cameras in the NY surveillance grid. Garcia is happy to hear that all of the footage is stored so that she can begin running facial recognition software on all of the crime scenes, including the crowd shots.
At the 14th Street Station, a young man gets onto the F train with a cup of coffee in his hand. A woman stares suspiciously at a man in a dark hooded sweatshirt who walks through the car and sits down in an empty seat.
The agents are working - Hotchner with Kate Joyner, Garcia with Officer Bartleby, Reid, Cooper, and Prentiss on the geographical profile, while JJ, Det. Brustin, Morgan and Rossi are analyzing the scene at the Spring Street Station. Rossi realizes that the unsub is extremely patient – he goes after a target in the middle of the day in New York City, but he waits for his victim to become separated from the milling crowds around him. Brustin seems distracted, almost uninterested in the BAU's analysis. When Rossi calls him on it he explains that he takes it very personally when something like this happens in his city. He remembers being a beat cop when the "Son of Sam" was killing in the city, and this one is worse: this killer isn't going after a particular type, no one is safe. He wants every agent on this case to take it personally. Morgan assures him that they will. Brustin replies, "We'll see."
In the small, dark computer office, Garcia notices that Officer Bartleby seems disturbed by the crime scene images that the two women are watching again and again. She tells the young woman her method of dealing with the terrible scenes that come across her computer screen: "You make it your own. You separate yourself from what you see on the screen." Reaching into her bag, Garcia begins to decorate Bartleby's desk with colorful figurines, toys and pens. She also suggests that Bartleby pull up the view from the camera at the last crime scene if she wants to see a "super fox." Bartleby can't help but smile when she gets her first glimpse of Derek Morgan.
At the crime scene, Rossi notes that the unsub ducks his head as soon as he gets off of the train, as if he knows that he is being filmed. Brustin admits the descriptions have been no help. The unsub has been described as Asian, or Puerto Rican, or even as a light-skinned black man. There is also no record of this gun having been used in any previous crime. Rossi tells the other agents that Mossad uses .22 caliber pistols in all of its political assassinations. Morgan puts all of the pieces together: the man is well organized, carries a gun that is easy to conceal and knows the locations of the cameras in the city – he knows what he's doing.
The hooded figure leaves the F train and makes his way up the steps to street level.
Reid asks Det. Cooper for a list of all gun related crimes that have taken place in the city in every borough where the killings have not occurred. Based on his anti-geographical profile, he has determined that this well-organized killer is striking outside his own comfort zone – these killings are not taking place near his home.
A gray-haired man apologizes after bumping into a woman on the street. He hurries to the pretzel stand to pick up a snack before stopping at the corner to hail a cab. The hooded figure shoots him in the back of the head and drops a tarot card before hurrying off down the street.
Inside the yellow crime scene tape, the agents are intent, focused on any clues that might be left to tell them about the killer. Outside the tape, New Yorkers watch, frightened, critical, and suspicious. Agent Joyner acts Det. Brustin if this is what it felt like during "Son of Sam's" reign of terror. He tells her that during those days they realized that if violence is truly random, there is no way to stop it. Looking around, he tells her that the people of New York have figured that out as well. Based on the camera's location, Morgan believes that the only thing they'll see on the surveillance footage is the back of the unsub's head. Joyner quickly retorts that he shouldn't make assumptions. After Joyner walks away, Morgan confronts Hotchner, demanding to know why he is "catching attitude" from Agent Joyner. Hotchner tells him that the FBI is watching Joyner closely on this case, and if she doesn't solve it she will be reassigned: Morgan is at the top of the list to replace her.
Rossi has picked up the tarot card – it is the "Death" card. While Brustin and Cooper wonder if the killer is into "spiritual garbage," Hotchner explains that the card actually symbolizes transformation or change such as a marriage or a job promotion. Based on the fact that the DC Sniper left the exact same card at a scene, this killer must see himself in that role: he thrives on creating a panic, and he studies other cases. He knows the BAU is there studying him.
People on the subway are nervous; their eyes flick from person to person, trying to assess the threat. A figure wearing a hooded sweatshirt stands by the train door.
The agents stride into the FBI field office through a crowd of reporters. Upstairs, Prentiss, JJ and Reid have found something peculiar while watching videos of the two crimes. In the first video, the killer walks off calmly after shooting his target, but in the latest video, the shooter runs away quickly. After six kills, the behavior of the unsub should be "set" - there should not be changes. There is an even bigger problem – Garcia has done a Digital Perspective Analysis Rendering of both crimes and has found that one killer was 6'1" tall, but the second killer is only 5'10". "We've got more than one unsub," breathes Hotchner.
One man sits reading in a darkened room when the hooded figure arrives and places his weapon on the table.
Since most killing teams stick together - they don't each go off to kill separately - the profilers must determine the cause of this behavior. If the killings were gang related there would some kind of connection among the victims. Hotchner advises his agents to give the general profile they've developed to the different agencies and shifts as they arrive, but Morgan disagrees with his tactics: he believes that the team should be posted at different possible target sites around the city. Agent Joyner tells him that she invited the BAU to give profiles, not to go out onto the streets. Morgan argues, believing that targeting egress and entrances to specific, high-target neighborhoods would be a better use of their manpower. He suggests that they concentrate on Express Stops such as 14th, 42nd, and 59th, but Hotchner interrupts, telling Morgan that it is not his call. Morgan walks off.
As Hotchner, Prentiss, JJ, and Reid enter the lobby of their hotel late that night, Prentiss notices a late edition newspaper that contains a screen shot of the subway killer. As the group stops to check it out, Reid sees that a familiar figure is waiting in the bar. JJ is surprised to see Det. Will LaMontagne, and is even more surprised when he announces that he doesn't want her on this case, "not with what's going on." Confused, Hotchner asks JJ if there is a problem, and she embarrassedly admits to her listening colleagues that she is pregnant. Prentiss and Reid respond with well-wishes and hugs, and Will tells them that he has asked JJ to marry him. Hotchner turns to give the two of them some privacy and JJ rushes after him. "You could have told me," he whispers, assuring her that she can take as much time as she needs, but JJ insists that she stay on the job.
Will takes JJ's hand and asks her to come back to Washington with him tomorrow, but JJ refuses. His job is just as dangerous as hers, she reminds him, and, although she loves the gesture and romance of his unexpected arrival, they are both going to be parents. Will reminds her that the first thing a cop does when she finds out she is pregnant is to take herself out of the field. Hugging him, JJ suggests they use the few hours they have to argue about names and cribs, and talk about the work later. "Only if you let me win," Will jokes.
Early the next morning, Morgan and Prentiss begin delivering the profile to city law enforcement. They advise the officers that these killings are not random, and they are not personal, sexually related, or about greed. Rossi, Reid and Agent Joyner are also briefing officers in another location. They explain that the Death card links these cases to the DC Sniper whose initial motivation was to cover up the murder of his ex-wife. The NY officers are concerned the unsubs now seem to be playing games just because the BAU has arrived – and Morgan and Prentiss cannot deny it. Reid explains that most killing teams consist of one intelligent member, and, based on the times of the killings, at least one member has a steady job. Rossi asks the officer to check businesses in their precincts that open and close around the time of the shootings, hoping to identify a father/son-like pair that meets the dominant/submissive profile. Another possibility, although unlikely, is that of a gang initiation. Reid and Prentiss hand out packets of information on known gang members.
On the streets of New York, people are noticing the heavy police presence. Garcia and Officer Bartleby are also watching – following movements of people via the surveillance camera system. Even with 80 undercover officers and over 4000 cameras, it is unlikely they will be able to prevent another shooting, but they may be able to catch the killer after the fact. Scanning the images, Bartleby notices a hooded man walking through a deserted subway station and hurriedly picks up the phone and notifies the FBI that there is a suspect at the 59th and Lexington platform. Hotchner tells Morgan, Rossi, and Joyner about the suspect and Morgan pointedly tells Joyner that they could have been there. Garcia and Bartleby watch as the suspect pulls a gun from his pocket and shoots a woman in the back of the head and rush up the stairs to the surface. Rossi asks Garcia to get "eyes on him aboveground," and Garcia follows the man's movements until he disappears from the camera's sight. Morgan is angry, adamant that the team could have been there to arrest the killer if Joyner had simply taken his advice. Joyner is unconvinced – chances are the unsub would have moved on to another location if they had been at the station. Hotchner sticks up for her, telling Morgan that the BAU is there to present a profile, not second guess police actions. Morgan will not give up on his argument – and faces off with Hotchner. Hotchner insists that they stay focused, but, from Morgan's viewpoint, Hotchner is only focused on the attractive Agent Joyner. "Take a walk – now." Hotchner whispers.
Rossi finds Morgan in the hotel bar, staring at a full glass of beer. Before Rossi can say anything, Morgan tells him that he knows he was out of line. Rossi has heard the rumors about Morgan's promotion if Agent Joyner is replaced, but warns Morgan that her inability to solve this case would really mean the BAU failed. Morgan stands to face him, denying that he wants Joyner to fail so that he can supplant her. "Would you take the job?" Rossi challenges him. Morgan's honest answer is that he doesn't know. He's worried – he sees the BAU take its toll on agent's lives. Gideon saw no other option but to run away. Hotchner hasn't smiled in over a year and never sees his own son. Rossi himself has had failed marriage after failed marriage. Rossi smiles and makes Morgan a promise to pull him out if he sees him going under. He doesn't deny that this job has personal consequences, but he knows Morgan wants to get right back to it – and that's the reason he hasn't touched his beer. Shaking his head, Morgan follows Rossi out.
The two find Morgan and Joyner watching, and re-watching, the video of the latest killing. This is the first time the team has killed two days in a row – they are speeding up. Joyner has even more disheartening news: Garcia has analyzed the latest footage and this killer is different. There are at least three people involved in these crimes. Joyner looks into Morgan's eyes and tells him that she's changed her mind – she wants them all out on the street the next day. Hotchner reminds the others that, upon their arrival in New York, everyone was talking about the similarities between this case and "Son of Sam." Both sets of killings seemed random with no sexual or need-based component. But, Morgan adds, David Berkowitz – the Son of Sam killer – admitted that he would return to the crime scenes later and masturbate. Nodding, Hotchner tells him about the plan to have Garcia go through video of the crime scenes for days after the murders and see if she can identify anyone returning to each one.
Today the agents are on the street. Garcia checks in with each one of the undercover teams from her vantage point in front of the computer screen including Prentiss and Cooper at 59th Street, and Morgan and JJ in Harold Square. Rossi and Reid are going over the profile at the field office when Rossi suddenly approaches Det. Brustin concerning his hatred of the "Son of Sam" case. Brustin admits it was because Berkowitz seemed to be laughing at the police – the only way they caught him was because of a parking ticket. Holding the tarot card, Rossi is bothered because this one element does not fit the case at all. The unsubs have done nothing to seek out media attention, even after seven killings, but they leave a tarot card at the crime scene. If they were opening lines of communication, the communication should have escalated afterwards, just as it did with the DC snipers, and with David Berkowitz himself. The tarot card was private, meant only for the BAU, which tells Rossi that they are ramping up to something. They know the BAU is watching, and they want the BAU to know they know it. Following Rossi's thought process, Reid asks, "If you saw all of these traits completely out of context what would be the first profile to pop into your head?" Rossi doesn't stop to answer but goes immediately to the phone with Garcia, asking her if she has each member of the team in sight.
Arriving at the 14th Street Station, Prentiss teases Cooper, telling him to stop working the "tired sexual tension angle" with her – she's got him figured out. She's noticed his behaviors – the little things that reveal something about his upbringing and personality. She has determined that he was an officer in the military, has a toddler at home, is quick to flirt but he loves his wife and would never actually cheat on her. "Wow, you might just solve this case yet," Cooper remarks with a smile.
Officer Bartleby is following up on Hotchner's request to analyze crime scene footage for the days after the shootings, but she has found a problem. Someone has hacked into two of the surveillance cameras.
A figure in a gray hooded sweatshirt gets off a downtown bus and walks slowly down the street. Cooper and Prentiss exit the subway station just two blocks away. A woman rushes up to an ATM on the corner, and the figure pulls out a gun and shoots her in the back of the head. Prentiss and Cooper turn, hearing the gunshot, and Prentiss calls in to Garcia who sees the suspect running east on 16th street, headed their way. Catching sight of the two agents, the killer turns and runs off in the opposite direction. He ducks into an alley and Cooper hurries around the corner after him. Standing a few yards away, the young man calmly aims his weapon at the detective and shoots him in the chest. Just a couple of steps behind Det. Cooper, Prentiss rounds the corner with her weapon drawn and shoots the unsub twice. After making sure that the shooter is unarmed and unconscious, Prentiss hurries back to Cooper, calling for help on her radio. Blood pours from the wound as Cooper struggles to remain conscious.
Detective Brustin watches as the paramedics load Cooper into an ambulance. Prentiss wipes his blood from her hands, shaken, as she tells JJ and Morgan that they aren't sure he's going to make it. Watching another team of paramedics working on the shooter, Rossi and Reid realize that the young man won't survive to tell them anything. "He would have gotten away," Prentiss stammers, trying to tell Morgan and JJ that the shooter deliberately stopped and waited for them in that alley. He didn't act winded or panicky, he didn't seem to feel trapped – his hand was steady and calm. The killers have been hyper vigilant and methodical – it was not a coincidence that they chose a victim only two blocks from where Cooper and Prentiss were standing. "What if they chose this spot because we were here?" Maybe he wanted them to kill him, just to make it seem as if everything was finished. When Hotchner and Joyner arrive, Rossi tells them about the situation and the new problem it represents: the unsubs are disciplined, using counter-surveillance, they know the FBI's movements, there's a hierarchy. The only criminals that fit this new profile are terrorists.
The BAU is being watched. Using a hack into the NYPD's very surveillance cameras, a shadowy group of figures stares at the small screen, watching.
In SSA Joyner's office, the team discusses the facts: these killings represent a bombing, and someone is staged nearby to figure out police and medical response time. The goals of terrorists are often to take out civilians first, and then first responders. This plan is brilliant – the shootings seem random, and, even if one suspect is caught, the police will not connect him to a terrorist cell. They are creating panic in the city in order to make sure response time is very short. Having followers perform the murders would ensure that they are willing to "kill or be killed for the cause, Rossi notes. Pointing to his map, Reid suggests that the targets may be points of entry – all of the murders took place near a bridge or a tunnel. If bombs went off, the first response would be to stop entry into or exit from the city – people would be trapped on the island.
Garcia calls with even more bad news – after checking all 4,468 cameras she has found that the terrorists have hacked into the system and they now have footage of every crime scene. They have been watching since the very first murder. Hacking into each camera separately made it very difficult to trace. With no time to waste, the team scatters – Prentiss to the hospital to check on Cooper and brief Det. Brustin, Rossi to the Police Commissioner, and Morgan to Homeland Security. JJ and Reid will talk to the Port Authority Police, and Hotchner and Joyner will talk to the mayor, but the whole team is to regroup at the Field Office. "One advantage that we have right now is that they don't know we know they're watching," remarks Joyner.
As the shadowy group sits watching their hack into the NYPD surveillance cameras, one member picks up a .22 handgun and kisses the barrel.
Before she and Reid can leave the building, JJ is handed a message. It's from Will. He's decided to go back to New Orleans tonight. "Are you okay?" asks Reid, gently. JJ tells him that Will doesn't want to be in the way. She reaches into the envelope and pulls out Will's detective's shield – he's quitting his job. JJ turns to Hotchner with tears in her eyes and asks if he needs everyone in the field. Hotchner urges Reid to talk to Port Authority by himself while JJ runs point from the office. He tells her to take a few minutes and return to the hotel to tell Will what is going on.
Prentiss arrives at the hospital as Det. Brustin closes the back door of a police car. Cooper is still in surgery and it doesn't look good. She tells Brustin that they think they know what this is about.
Hotchner and Joyner leave the FBI Field Office.
Prentiss walks back to her black SUV.
Garcia smiles at the driver, as a black SUV stops to pick her up.
JJ kisses Will outside the hotel before getting into the passenger door of a black SUV.
Rossi unlocks his black SUV and reaches for the driver's side door.
Reid hurries to open the driver's side door of his black SUV.
Morgan reaches for the door handle to his black SUV.
The doors close. One black SUV explodes.