In Jacksonville, Florida, a woman in shorts is leaving her house, smoking a cigarette, getting the mail, and going back inside. She's talking to her husband, and telling him to go easy on the butter according to doctor's orders. Her husband is in the living room seated in front of a laptop. The woman sits down next to her husband and opens an envelope, thinking it contains photographs their daughter, Laura, has sent from her trip to Orlando. The woman finds it strange that the envelope contains a DVD instead of prints, but she puts the disc in her husband's laptop. They both watch in horror as the screen shows a movie of their daughter in her underwear with her wrists tied together.
Segue to the same video, but now it's the BAU team watching it.
JJ confirms to Hotchner that the video was sent to the family, and adds the father had a heart condition and died. The whole team is sitting at a round table covered with boxes and files. Hotchner explains the music in the video is not on a separate track. Garcia tries to get the voice of the unsub. Gideon wants some more information on the victim. JJ tells him she is Laura Clemensen, a 20-year-old sophomore from Jacksonville, Florida. It appears she is the fifth in a series of rapes and murders over the past five years. Some women were taken from parking lots; others were abducted while running. Laura wasn't reported missing because her roommate thought she was visiting family, like she did every Sunday, and her parents had thought she was at school. She had been missing for five days, and the tapes show evidence that the other victims were tortured for weeks. The team has to assume she is still alive. There were five victims, but only on the last two the unsub sent a DVD. The Jacksonville police department hoped the video would answer some questions for them, but instead it just raised more questions. Reid thinks they are natural escalation to murder. Now the thrill of the kill isn't enough, the unsub needs to spread panic to the families as well. Sadistic killers are typically strangers to the victims; it's easier for the offender to kill and torture someone they don't know. Gideon interrupts Reid, "Offenders. He isn't doing this just for himself. He's playing to an audience, not her family."
They hand Gideon the remote control and he shows them what he means. He says there is someone watching the unsub, who appreciates and admires what he's doing. Reid says it indeed is a characteristic of partners to record their crimes so they can relive the fantasy later. Elle asks how they can be sure. Hotchner points to the screen, "Right there, the camera moves." Gideon rewinds the video and confirms one man tortures while the other records it. Master and servant. Hotchner utters grimly that the Jacksonville police department had been looking for this killer for years and wonders how long it will take them to find a team.
Mark Twain wrote, "Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it."
On the plane, Morgan is reviewing the tape on his laptop and points out this is the third time the unsub #1 had looked back up to the unsub #2 who was filming it. Reid comments, "Folie à deux." Gideon explains is a psychological phenomenon in which two or more people share the same psychotic delusion. Reid says that is the literal translation, but that it often refers to the bond between two people that bring out the worst in each other. Elle elaborates: Most killing teams have a dominant personality that instigates and plans, and a submissive one that is an eager accomplice. JJ asks how they decide who gets to kill. Hotchner answers the dominant one will usually insist on taking the life. The DVD is a souvenir, and it allows the dominant one to keep the submissive one interested and aroused. Morgan adds it's also about control, and it's a policy for blackmail, in case one of the two gets cold feet. Elle comments that it makes you wonder what would have happened in case these two people would never have met. Gideon thinks those women would still be alive. Garcia comes in through a video feed, and informs them the police have just found Laura Clemensen's body under a bridge in plain sight. Reid points out it has only been a week since Laura went missing – the time spent torturing is getting shorter. Her mother hasn't been notified yet. Hotchner says they can cover more ground if they split up. Gideon says he and Morgan will meet with local police department. Hotchner says he'll talk to Laura Clemensen's mother, Elle says she'll go with him, and Reid will start with the victimology to find out why these women had been targeted.
Elle and Hotchner are with Laura's mother who just lost both her husband and her daughter. "After Frank and I watched that video I knew… At least she isn't suffering anymore." Elle asks if there is anything they can do. Laura's mother asks if she could get the pearl and diamond ring back that her husband gave their daughter for her graduation. Hotchner gently asks her what Laura was like. They have to know if there are similarities between the victims. Laura was confident, she knew everyone at school, and she wanted everybody to like her. "Frank always thought that she was too much of a people pleaser, but I thought it showed that she had a really good heart." Elle agrees with her. Hotchner says that police may have a witness who saw Laura give directions to someone. Laura's mother says, "We raised our children to be helpful and kind and that made Laura an easy target for a killer?" Elle assures her that she did everything right. This wasn't supposed to happen.
Gideon and Morgan meet with Detective Portillo, and tell him they think there are two suspects, as they look down on Laura's body. She is lying on her back in the grass with clear plastic foil wrapped around her, her legs are bent at the knees and they're pointing up. She has deep lacerations on her neck, chest, and thighs, and, judging from the color of the bruising, the torture went on for several days. Morgan says that CSI believes the COD is ligature strangulation, which is consistent with the other victims. Laura's ring is missing. Morgan asks Gideon why the killers need more trophies, and he replies the killer probably passed it on as a gift. Like the Green River Killer, who would leave jewelry for his female co-workers and then become aroused when he saw them wear it. Detective Portillo asks why the killers leave these women in such horrible positions. Morgan explains it's the ultimate degradation for the victims and their family. Gideon adds it's shock value for whomever finds them, and that it send a message to the police. "Look what we can do. You can't stop us."
Elle and Hotchner meet with Reid at the station. Elle asks if there are new victims. Reid tells Garcia sent him a list, and there are two interesting cases on there. They have similar traits and they were also posed, but the difference is that they were manually strangled. The DNA didn't match the more recent kills, but the dominant one could have allowed the submissive to kill and rape the first two victims to hook him. Laura got good grades, she had a good relationship with her parents, and had lots of friends. The other victims were very similar. JJ points out the DVD was addressed to Laura's mother as was the first tape. The mother of the first victim went on television pleading for their daughter's life and asking God to forgive who did this. That must have made the unsub angry. They don't want or need forgiveness.
Sounds of a car honking and a blonde girl, who is jogging then stops to give directions. When she turns around, she is dragged into the van, screaming.
Reid says the humiliating posing of the bodies can't be a coincidence; it's too unique. Morgan says the bruising on necks indicates a struggle especially with the first victims the killer lost grip a few times. He then switched from bare hands to ligature because it's more controlled and sophisticated. It's efficient. He doesn't really care because in both cases it satisfies his sadistic need for a slow death. Morgan thinks the unsubs dispose of their cars, since the Jacksonville police department never found them. Hotchner asks why they go to so much trouble hiding the cars yet they make their victims easy to find.
Gideon complains about the heat, Detective Portillo tells the temperature is a record and apologizes for the air conditioner being broken. Elle briefs the police department team: The dominant one is the mastermind, but the submissive one isn't innocent at all. Gideon adds if their criminal desire wasn't present, their partnership wouldn't work. Morgan continues by saying they share a common delusion, which justifies their actions. Reid explains further by saying it's kind of like the perfect storm. Once these deviant personalities collide they're deadly and unstoppable. Hotchner gives some examples of past teamed-up killers, and says the dominant makes submissive feel invincible. That is his reward for following orders. Once they've pulled one off, they accept that as "normal" and the previous normal gets bored. They become obsessed with the new normal. There's a fierce loyalty between the two of them. The submissive one will be less intelligent and easier to catch, and once caught he will be easier to turn.
JJ walks in and apologizes for interrupting, but there is a woman on the news asking if someone saw her daughter, Tiffany. She went for a run and never came home. Gideon grumbles and asks why they weren't told about this before she went on the news. JJ says they didn't know about it. Tiffany was abducted from Middleburg, which is outside Jacksonville's jurisdiction, and a town about an hour away. Morgan says if the unsubs see this, it will only be a short while before they send the DVD. JJ calls the network about the press conference to get in touch with the mother. Morgan says the unsubs are getting impatient. Hotchner adds that they're getting more dangerous and that Tiffany Spears is running out of time.
Shot of a screaming woman being bound, struggling.
Morgan calls Garcia and asks her if she's okay. Garcia confirms by saying she's got images of a tortured girl burnt into her brain, and that she has isolated four audio streams from the track on the DVD. The bad news is they all are pretty distorted. So, no, she's not okay. She did, however, find out the unsubs destroyed the cars and sold the parts to Trevors in Georgia. Crossing state lines makes them hard to track. Morgan hands Gideon the fax Garcia had sent and tells him the car parts lead back to Joey Davin who lives in Jacksonville. He has been in and out of jail since he was 17, and he now is 27. He was busted for car theft with a partner. He needs a good leader.
Elle and Hotchner are talking to Tiffany's distressed mother, who received a DVD, and wants to see it. Elle hands her a photograph of her daughter, suntanned and smiling, and tells her she needs to remember her like this until they get her back. She tells her she doesn't need to see what's on the DVD. Tiffany's mother feels guilty because she was supposed to go running with her that day, but she does hand the DVD to Elle.
A man is watching the local Middleburg news report about the case, as there's a knock on the door. When he sees the police outside, he backs away from the window. His father answers the door; he's in a wheelchair, and asks what Joey did. As the team stands on the doorstep, Joey appears and approaches them with a gun. Each cop draws his or her own gun. Joey says he has knows he now has three strikes and that he is not going down for this. Everyone shouts at him to put the gun down, but as he slowly raises it pointing it in their direction they have no other choice but to shoot him in front of his father. He falls back through a glass door onto the grass. The coroner take out the body on a gurney as Gideon and Morgan talk to the grieving father, who asks if this can wait. Morgan replies by telling Mr. Davin there have been seven women raped and murdered in the Jacksonville area and they think Joey did it. Mr. Davin tells them Joey has been living with him for two years. He hoped it would keep him out of trouble. He has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair because of it. Joey worked at a garage with a bunch of ex-cons, he tried so hard but he couldn't get him out of that world. Detective Portillo comes to Gideon and hands him an evidence bag. Gideon looks at it and asks if his son has a girlfriend or friend with long blonde hair. He answers, "Not that I know of. But after today nothing would surprise me."
Morgan knows something doesn't fit, the dominant one wouldn't have panicked like that. Detective Portillo asks where the other half of this partnership is. Gideon thinks out loud. There's a white minivan. It's Henry's – it has handicap plates - but he is not showing any signs that he is part of this. He tells Portillo to have his men process the van. If there is anything in there that doesn't belong to Joe or Henry Davin he wants to know about it. Morgan says he'll go to the garage and find out who his ex-cell mate was. Reasoning that if he works with ex-cons he probably talks to him as well.
Garcia answers the phone with a "this better be helluva good" but when she hears Gideon on the other end she flusters "Oh, yes, sir, I'm hear, I'm sorry". Gideon patiently waits for her to finish talking and says he need to know with whom Joseph Davin shared a cell. It takes Garcia a while but she does find the records. Joseph Franklin Davin shared Cell 32 with Anthony Paul Canardo (aka Tony/ Ton) for 18 months and they both were released three years ago. Gideon asks if that's it. Garcia hastily adds, that his current address is 865 Kentwood in Jacksonville. Gideon again asks if this is all she's got. Garcia mumbles, yeah. Gideon tells her she did great work, and to keep it up. Gideon hangs up, leaving Garcia thanking someone who's not there.
Hotchner and Elle go to the garage, flashing their badges and talking to Joe's boss, Kroger, who said he had fired Joe last week, claiming he wasn't very good at his job. They tell him he's dead, followed by that he doesn't seem real upset. Kroger tells them he already has a replacement. His ex-con buddies were always at the shop and it was bad for business. Hotchner points out that he is an ex-con. He answers he was innocent. Hotchner scoffs, 'Yeah, they all are.' And he shows him a picture of Tony on his cell phone asking him if he recognizes him. Kroger says it is a man named T-Bone, who ran with Joey's crowd. When he was around Joey wasn't taking orders from him. He then excuses himself saying he's must get back to work.
Elle sighs, saying Joey was surrounded by dominant personalities. Hotch nods, and adds if Kroger was the killer he'd probably hide it better, but he will have Garcia run his sheet.
Mrs. Canardo lets Portillo Morgan and Gideon into the house. There are empty bottles all over the place. Tony is not home. She admits to knowing Joey, and they tell her he's dead. "He pulled a gun on us when we wanted to question him." She asks what they wanted to question him about. They tell her it was about the seven women he raped and killed. She tells them her husband and he did time together. When he got out Tony tried to turn his life around, stay clean. Gideon glances around the room and asks how he's doing? She follows his gaze, "Okay, some of those are mine." Morgan asks if Tony ever gets into trouble or acts scary when he drinks. Amber says it's only when he's around Joey. She adds that Tony's getting off work and he should be home soon. Morgan asks her if there is any place she can go because they need to talk to him. She says she will stay with a friend. Portillo will drive Gideon back to the station and Morgan will wait at the house for Tony to come home.
Hotch and Elle talk to Garcia over the phone, who tells them she has Kroger's rap sheet and he has a lot of convictions. She promises if there is a loose thread she will find it, pull it, and tear it apart. She ends with "à tout à l'heure" and hangs up. They fill in Gideon and Reid. An officer tells Gideon there is someone who wants to talk to him. It's Canardo's wife, and she looks as though she was beaten in the face. She is crying and tells Gideon that Tony did this when she went to find him. She told him the FBI was looking for him. She says she wasn't completely honest about Tony before, and that he fell off the wagon a while ago. She didn't want to betray him because he is her husband. Elle comforts her by saying she is safe, and then goes to tell Portillo and Hotch to go meet Morgan.
Reid gently asks Mrs. Canardo if her ring is new. She says Tony had won some money playing poker, and he bought it as a gift. When Reid says the ring looks a lot like Laura Clemensen's ring, it dawns on her and she doesn't know how fast she can get it off.
Canardo comes home, Morgan follows him, his gun drawn, but Canardo ambushes him and hits him with a baseball bat. Morgan punches him then cuffs him as the others (Hotch, Portillo and half the police department) arrive. They take him in to the House and play a DVD there that's in the player – it's one with Tiffany Spears. Morgan asks Tony where she is, but he's not talking. Tiffany is laying on her back on a worn rug in a room. She has pink clear cling wrap around her upper body, her wrists are tied behind her back. She is crying and screaming for help.
Back at the station Morgan discusses with the team how they will approach him. "If we're gonna get anything out of Tony we need to praise him. He is the dominant he thinks he deserves it." The whole team is watching Tony on a monitor as he is held in interrogation. "We need to make him think he's smarter than us." Gideon says they don't have much time.
Hotchner goes in and Tony shows him he's cuffed. Hotchner says that he's sorry, but that it's standard procedure. He sits down, introduces himself, and says the case is remarkable. That people at the BAU are shaking their heads. Tony asks him, "What about you?" "Absolutely," answers Hotchner. "Seven victims in three years, every woman in Jacksonville living in fear. That's pretty much what you wanted it right?" Tony answers he's sure that whomever is responsible for it is enjoying it. Hotchner says that with his permission they'd like to study him. Tony ignores him and asks Hotchner to show him what's in the boxes. Hotch shows him one file with information abut the case, claiming the other boxes are full of files about him as well. Hotch offers to go through them all, but Tony denies and lawyers up. Gideon comments, "He's playing games, this guy's been to jail before, he knows how to keep his mouth shut."
Morgan and Reid watch Tony on the video screen again, and notice how he's focused at those pictures on the wall. But this gesture doesn't officially tie him to the crimes. Hotchner knows he's not getting anywhere with him. Gideon asks if the wife is still there. Elle reacts surprised and asks if he wants to put her in the room with him. Gideon says they need to humanize him. She can do that. She takes his abuse. So he goes to talk to her. "I believe that you are the only person that can get through to Tony. With Joe dead he's the only one who knows where Tiffany Spears is and if he does you are the one that saved her life. You are our only hope." So she agrees reluctantly.
She goes him and says she needs to know where the girl is. He looks at her. "Don't you mean they need to know? What have I got to gain, they're pinning is for seven murders Amber." She says he and Joey killed them all. None of this would have happened if Joey had stayed away. She keeps on trying to persuade him to tell where the girl is. At one point her tone of voice changes to a more demanding one as she says: "Tell me now. Where's the girl?" Tony looks away from her, down at the table, and tells her there's this storage unit; Joe's dad is the only one who has the key.
She walks out and says shocked that she can't believe her husband killed all those women. Gideon tells her that it took a lot of courage to go in there, that she did the right thing. Reid wonders, "Joe's dad. Isn't he in a wheelchair?" Hotch answers, "Yes, but only for two years. He could have done the first kills and then live it through Tony and Joe." Morgan says that it makes sense since they found Laura Clemensen's hair in Joey's house.
JJ and Elle discuss Canardo, who they think is one sick bastard. Elle says that his mother abandoned him when he was four years old. She got clean and got him back until he was 11 and then she was arrested for prostitution. JJ says that it's no wonder he hates women. Elle thinks something doesn't fit though. "He bounced around social services after that. He never had any support. How did he get the confidence to pull off something like this, he's supposed to be the dominant one, the leader. Given his history – how can he do that?"
The SWAT team raids on the warehouse, but there were no booby traps – it was just a regular warehouse – just a ploy.
Reid and Gideon watch Tony on the video screen, commenting how he's really playing the tough guy with that officer.
And he played the tough guy with Hotch. But it's defensive, not aggressive. Hotch tells Reid to show the tape with the wife again and asks why isn't she scared? Reid says she looks pretty scared, but Gideon grabs the remote. Look, there, she initiated eye contact. Garcia calls JJ and Elle – guys, you got to hear this. Gideon explains to Reid that if Amber were afraid she'd look anywhere but at his face. Reid takes a better look as well – and adds that she looks at the victims but she doesn't seem to be that repulsed. She actually looks surprisingly calm. Garcia cleaned up the audio and it's a woman's voice in the background directing the person taping it.
Gideon continues to watch the tape, and says Tony's studying Amber, he's waiting for her lead. At the "where did Joey take the girl" Reid point out that she just gave Tony an order. Gideon concludes that he's protecting her; he's giving her an out. He runs out to get Ms. Canardo, but she has already left.
Amber is the dominant one. So she is the one doing the killing. JJ hands Reid a file, Joey's DNA didn't match the first two victims so neither could Henry's, since they are related. So who raped the first two girls?
Gideon goes in. He tells Tony that he's a lucky man. That he has something really special, Amber stayed with you knowing what you did to all those women. He says that he knows they would do anything for each other, but then asks why Tony would you confess to killing these two women when he had no idea who they were? Tony keeps his leg stiff and says Joey and he killed all those women. Gideon questions him "Really? Then whose DNA did we find at the scene?" Tony has no idea what he is talking about. Gideon tells him what he knows, and that they have Amber on tape giving him orders. "We know Amber is your partner, not Joey. Come on, why? Why are you protecting her?" He says that she is his wife and that nothing would ever come between them.
Garcia calls Reid who is watching the interview with Elle. "No time for pleasantries, I was able to unseal a file regarding Amber Canardo. When she was 15, she walked into a Tallahassee hospital, raped and beaten something awful. Both her father and her brother were abusing her. She went to the police, her mom showed up and told them Amber was lying."
Reid says that it's strange; in this case the abused actually became the abuser. Garcia asks him if that doesn't happen a lot. Reid tells her it's one in eight. Garcia answers by telling him they found the one.
Gideon asks Tony if he asked Amber how the first two women died. He tells him Amber's done it before. Tony contradicts him. Gideon tells him that she did, that Tony is not that special, that in fact men mean nothing to Amber. She used him just like the other guy. She set you up. She had him do everything. "Whose DNA do you think that was at the scene? She beat herself up, walked in here, and told up you gave her Clemensen's ring as a gift."
Reid tells Gideon through his earpiece that Garcia found out Amber had been abused by her brothers and father, and they had taken her to the woods. Gideon tells Tony that Amber betrayed him and there is only one way he will get her back, otherwise she will forget about him just like she forgot about the other guy. Tony's not talking. Gideon continues by telling him he knows Amber's father kept her in the woods so no one would hear her scream, so he knows it was Ambers idea to leave the girls in the woods. Tony finally breaks. "There's a cabin..."
The SWAT team raids the cabin in the woods. They surround the wooden cabin and as Hotchner peaks through a window, a girl's face is smashed into the window from the opposite side of the glass. It's Tiffany, still bound, still screaming in terror as Amber is throwing her around the cabin. They arrest Amber, who says they got nothing on her, but Hotchner contradicts – we got your voice on tape giving orders. Morgan wraps his arms and a blanket around Tiffany, " I'm FBI. You're safe. I'm not gonna hurt you." As Amber is being led out, she spits: "Believe me, she will never be the same." They radio back that they have Amber and that Tiffany Spears is alive. Garcia takes off her glasses, rubs her head, switches off the DVD that is still running, and cries.
On the plane, JJ receives a phone call, then informs the rest that the Jacksonville police department found the remains of a body under the grounds of the cabin and believe it's Amber's old boyfriend. Gideon says that it very likely will be his DNA that will match the DNA that was found on the first two victims. Reid smiles and says that at least the families will finally have closure. Morgan adds that they did save Tiffany Spears.
Hotchner sits away from the rest of the team, thinking.
Philosopher Kahlil Gibran wrote, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."