PRESENT DAY. J.J. is being interrogated by an FBI superior about the Reaper case. "Let me start at the beginning," says J.J., explaining that the Reaper had developed a strong tolerance for certain prescription drugs. The team had been searching pharmacy records for anyone taking a similar combination of pills.
FLASHBACK to a pharmacy, where J.J. and her boyfriend William shop with their little boy. She suddenly figures out that many over-the-counter meds can substitute for some prescription varieties. Cut to headquarters, where J.J. shares the news with her former boss. "Focus on the meds he can't substitute," Hotch says. "Good work."
Cut to PRESENT DAY. Garcia is now being interrogated. She defends Hotch, who is clearly the target in Erin's internal investigtion. Baby Girl then continues the story ...
FLASHBACK to headquarters, where Hotch orders Garcia to find those meds. Some furious keyboard clattering later, Garcia narrows the drugs down to one -- and comes up with a list of names. The team then matches those names to geographic locations where the Reaper has been known to operate as well as possible aliases provided by anagram-expert Reid. The verdict: Peter Rhea. "We found him," Rossi says.
Cut to PRESENT DAY. Rossi is being interrogated. "What's the point of all this, Erin?" he asks. Asks Erin: "So we just wait for the next blood bath?" Rossi laments. He continues the story ...
FLASHBACK to a stakeout outside Rhea's place. Derek sends in an agent disguised as a repairman. The agent slides a camera under the door so the team can explore via remote. They see large stack of mail on the floor. Hotch then leads the way into the apartment. It's clear the Reaper fled quickly. "If he's in a hurry, he'll make a mistake," Rossi says. Or he'll start killing. Maybe both. Garcia hacks into the Reaper's computer and discovers that the killer had an Internet alert on the name Peter Rhea. He fled as soon as it the FBI ran a check on it. There are also photographs on the hard drive. "That's the U.S. Marshall assigned to my family," Hotch says. Uh oh.
Cut to PRESENT DAY. Reid is being interrogated. He explains that it would have taken too much time to call in a special unit, so the team headed straight to the safe house where Hotch's family was being kept. Once again, he refuses to indict Hotch, saying it was the team's collective decision. "I have a photographic memory," Reid deadpans.
FLASHBACK to an FBI car screaming up to the safe house. The front door is open! Inside, U.S. Marshall Sam Kassmeyer lies bleeding on the floor. He was shot by the Reaper, who demanded to know the location of Hotch's family. Kassmeyer refused to talk despite the fact that the Reaper cut off his fingers. Unfortunately, the Reaper spotted the Marshall's cell phone, which contained the number for Haley Hotchner. The Reaper convinced Haley that he was a cop and that she should meet him at an unknown locale. "She's going to him --- I'm so sorry," Kassmeyer gasps seconds before flat lining.
Cut to PRESENT DAY. Emily is being interrogated. She also defends Hotch before continuing the story ...
FLASHBACK to headquarters, where Garcia attempts to trace Kassmeyer's cell phone. She gets a number and Hotch calls it. The Reaper answers! "Your mother tried to protect you from your father, but she wasn't strong enough," says Hotch, attempting to throw the killer off his game. Then the Reaper reveals that he is watching Hotch's familyi AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Hotch begins to cry. "I really got to go," the Reaper says before hanging up.
Cut to PRESENT DAY. Derek is being interrogated. He explains to Erin that the team then did what they do best: follow the profile to find the Reaper.
FLASHBACK to headquarters, where the team brainstorms. "He says something on that call that tells Hotch where to go," Rossi says. Indeed, the Reaper can be heard telling Haley to open a gate before the call ended. Given the Reapers penchant for mind games and his need for dominance, Rossi theorizes that the Reaper is at the Hotchner homestead. "Their house where they lived together!" he exclaims. Bingo.
All cars descend on the Hotchner residence. Suddenly, Haley calls Hotch's cell. She is shocked to discover that Hotch is still alive -- and quickly realizes that the cop is actually the Reaper. Hotch attempts to calm his wife, but the Reaper won't allow it. "You know all he had to do was stop looking for me and you wouldn't be in this mess?" he tells Haley. Hotch apologizes to his wife for "everything." Knowing she is doomed, Haley then begins saying goodbye as the Reaper pulls out his gun. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Just then, Hotch pulls up to his old house. He charges inside, gun drawn. He follows bloodstains upstairs and discovers his ex-wife's dead body. She has been shot in the throat. He gasps -- then notices a shape behind the curtain. Hotch fires. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! The Reaper falls forward, but he's wearing a bullet-proof vest. The killer makes a break for it and Hotch tackles him down the stairs. A furious wrestling match ensues. Punches are thrown! Tables are smashed! Glasses are broken! Finally, Hotch gets the upper hand. "You got me," the Reaper gasps. "I surrender!" No dice. Hotch, images of his dead ex-wife flashing in his head, begins to beat the Reaper mercilessly. The punches land OVER and OVER and OVER. Blood flies everywhere!
At long last, Derek bursts into the room and pulls Hotch away. "It's over!" Derek yells. The Reaper is a bloody pulp. Dead. Case closed.
But not the episode.
Hotch runs into his office, where he finds his son Jack hiding. They embrace. J.J. then takes the boy outside, allowing Hotch to break down. He hugs the dead body of his ex.
Cut to PRESENT DAY. Hotch is being interrogated. Erin asks him why he killed the Reaper. "I know that he would have tried to kill my son, too," Hotch says. Erin decides the reasoning is good enough. Hotch is free to go, but he is clearly a changed man.