A spree killer has committed multiple murders of brunette coeds at a college campus when the BAU is assigned to the case. The murders are taking place in plain sight, with no fighting back from the victims. This leads the unit to believe the killer is a part of daily life on campus; someone who would put a victim at ease.
Meanwhile, there are troubles within the unit as well. Gideon is still reeling from Sarah's recent death, while Prentiss is getting pressure from Supervisor Strauss about removing Hotchner from the team. Soon the unit believes they have their man: a security guard who matches the profile perfectly. But when another murder takes place, the unit begins to question the veracity of their profile.
A student approaches Jarreau and Reid and identifies a female student's unusually suspicious behavior. At the same time, Gideon orders the release of the suspect. It turns out that the female student committed the final murder as a copycat killing, in the hopes that the killer would be freed. The girl follows the security guard after his release and asks him to kill her, but he refuses, certain she's trying to trap him. She ends up stabbing him and then herself as the BAU looks on, powerless to save them.
Strauss puts Hotchner on a two-week suspension without pay because of the way the case played out. As a result, Gideon decides to leave the unit, but his future remains undetermined.