Gideon is seated in his office. JJ enters, hands him a file, and tells him they have identified the girl in the video as Rebecca Bryant. He tells her to leave it on the desk. He seems to be preoccupied.
In the bullpen, the team is still puzzling about the cipher. As they study a large sheet of paper on the wall with the cipher written on it, they realize they will need the exact book, the correct volume, and the right publication date to decipher the unsub's message. Reid thinks he knows the poem from the music box, not because he had read it, in which case he would have instantly known because of his eidetic memory, but because he had heard it before.
Gideon sends the team to South Boston where Rebecca Bryant had lived, and tells Reid to keep working on the cipher. "If anyone can do this, you can."
"The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body; after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind." French writer François de la Rochefoucauld
Rebecca is chained to a bed in a dark room resembling a cellar. She is unwell, sweating and coughing, and her hair is tangled. She tries to stand up next to the bed, but is too weak. She lifts her head and looks into the video camera in her room, the light is flickering, and she begs whoever is watching her to help her.
Hotchner sees Agent Anderson in the office and asks him about Elle's whereabouts. When Anderson replies "at home," Hotchner becomes agitated and says, "Take her home does not mean drop her off. Get back over there now. The unsub has all our info, including our home addresses."
In a dream sequence, Elle is seated in a plane and a uniformed man approaches her demanding a case file. Elle is confused; she doesn't know how she got there and she doesn't know what case file he means. The man tells her without a case file she can't get off, and the rules are very clear. At the word "clear" Elle is seen lying on the floor in her own house, bleeding from two gunshot wounds as the paramedics are working on her. One paramedic shocks her with paddles, and says the word "clear" as well. The other paramedic prepares to put in an IV. It's touch and go. On the wall, the word "RULES" is written in Elle's blood.
Back at the BAU, Reid tries to compile a list of possible book titles, and concludes it would be impossible because there just are too many books. Then he remembers one of the clues the unsub left them was a baseball card with a year on it. He takes it from the table and goes to Gideon. It's a baseball card from Nelly Fox from the White Sox. The card should be a 1959 card because that would have meaning to Gideon, but it's a 1963 card. Apparently, this is something the unsub did deliberately. The rest of the items considered to be clues were very carefully sought out. They realize the book they are seeking was published in 1963.
The man who had delivered a package to Haley Hotchner turned himself in when he heard they were looking for him. He tells Hotchner, "Look. This guy says it needs to go a few miles and a girl's life depended on it." Gideon asks him if he didn't find that a tad suspicious, and the delivery man admitted he'd been given $1,000 cash to deliver it, then decided it was suspicious and reported it later.
Garcia is very angry with the hacker who had infiltrated her computer system and covered his tracks so very well. So she decides to write a computer program that would track him down to his IP address, which in turn leads to a name: Sir Kneighf. Reid, who is standing behind her, bends forward for a better look and comments on the odd spelling. He asks Garcia if she has a database that lists books published in 1963.
Garcia says there is no master list and explains publishers have individual lists, but it also depends on the year: the further back, the less information there is. Reid then asks Garcia to type "never would it be night, but always clear day to any man's sight" into a search engine, which are the poem lines from the music box. She gets one hit. It's a poem called "the parliament of fowls" by Geoffrey Chaucer, and is considered to be the first valentine poem. Reid remembers his mother used to read that poem to him. Garcia mocks him and says, "Your mom read you valentines poems? Hello therapy!"
Reid goes back to the bull pen where the cipher is on the board and he reviews all the clues again. Medieval, British, Chaucer, 1963, butterfly. Chaucer was Middle English, and the word "fowls" would have been spelled with an E in Middle English, or "fowles." So he has Garcia search for John Fowles. His book, The Collector, was published in the United Kingdom in 1963. When Garcia's computer reveals the cover of the book, they know it is the right one. It depicts a picture of a butterfly, a key, and a strand of hair - the clues the unsub had given to them. The other clues, a baseball card, and a music box, indicate the same title.
Gideon and Hotchner continue their interrogation of the delivery man, who remembers the unsub's face was all messed up, scarred, and burned.
Reid and Garcia meet Gideon and Hotchner in the hall. "We know the book – it's The Collector. There are four libraries searching to see if they have the right edition."
An agent tells Gideon there is a call for him, someone calling himself the Fisher King, who says it is extremely urgent. Reid realizes the Fisher King is an anagram of Sir Kneighf, and the Fisher King is at the end of all Grail quests.
Gideon puts the call on speakerphone. "What I had to do was not my fault." It indeed is the unsub. "I told you there were rules." Gideon tells him they are more interested in how he got all those burns, but the unsub ignores him and continues, "Remember this next time you step outside my rules, Agent Greenaway did not have to die like that." And then he hangs up. The call had been made to Elle's desk. They realize the unsub believes Elle is dead.
Elle sees herself in the airplane again, only this time it is her father who meets her there. In reality, she is being wheeled through the hospital halls on her way to surgery. Gideon and Hotchner are there, and a desolate Agent Anderson tells them he believes it was his fault that Elle got shot because he had left her home without guarding her.
Flashing back to Elle’s home, it is revealed that Elle had dialed 9-1-1 herself before she passed out, and the unsub had taken her ID so the medical staff only found out she was an agent after she had arrived. Gideon tells Agent Anderson to get back to Elle's house and handle it as a federal crime scene.
Reid and Garcia find the right book, and they decode the cipher. Track and trace couldn't trace the unsub's cell phone. Hotchner now feels guilty for sending Elle home and for not being clearer with Agent Anderson. Gideon assures him that it was not his fault.
Hotchner attempts to call JJ and Morgan, who are now in the car on their way to Virginia to investigate the information that Rebecca had left for school one morning and never arrived. Only Hotchner can't get through because apparently they have poor cell phone reception in Virginia.
Garcia is finished writing down the deciphered text on the white board, which reads:
The path to the end
Began at his start
To find her first calm
Her long broken heart
She sits in a window
With secrets from her knight
Is it adventure that keeps
Him out of her sight
The unsub had left them a riddle.
Reid realizes now that all the clues point to his mother. "Always day; never night."
It is never night in Las Vegas, where his mother lives.
Reid picks up the phone and tells the operator to connect him to the field office closest to Las Vegas, Nevada. "Look, I need my mother picked up and brought to Virginia in protective custody ASAP. We have an unsub who just shot one of our agents today. He might know her. I believe she is in danger. She's at the Bennington Sanitarium. She's a patient there." He hesitates at the last part of that sentence because Garcia is standing behind him.
Segue to Reid's mother, Diana, sitting outside on a bench, and a nurse's voice telling her there is someone there to see her.
Morgan and JJ finally have cell phone reception. Morgan slams on the brakes when JJ tells him the news about Elle. He makes an illegal U-turn and goes back, although Gideon had ordered him not to return. JJ tells him Elle is in surgery and there is nothing they can do. It is better to go on with the investigation.
At the hospital, Elle has flat-lined and speaking with her father in the plane. She tells him how hard it was not growing up with him, and she asks him what will happen to her. He answers, "That's up to you."
Gideon is still in the hospital waiting for news about Elle. He laments, "The unsub is extremely organized… maybe if we had listened to his directions." So he also feels as though it's partly his fault Elle had been shot. Hotchner points out the unsub is delusional. But Gideon says, "Delusion and this level of organization are almost mutually exclusive."
At Elle's house, Anderson reports back, "They are still processing Elle's house, but found a partial fingerprint in the blood on the wall."
Garcia tells Reid some good news. "Your mom's okay, they are flying her in." She doesn't comment on the sanitarium.
Reid too feels guilty. He thinks he should have remembered sooner that his mother always read him that poem, and he should have realized sooner he was the only one who knew JJ collected butterflies. "People always tell me their secrets because they know I have no one to tell them to." He only told his mother, "I write her a letter every day…so I won't feel so guilty about not visiting her. Did you know schizophrenia is genetically passed?"
Morgan and JJ visit Rebecca's parents with a local detective, who leads them to the garage. Morgan asks for some coffee. JJ walks with Mrs. Bryant into the house so Morgan can talk to the detective without the mother listening. Morgan finds it strange that the mother had boxed up all of Rebecca's belongings rather than keeping her bedroom exactly as it was.
Morgan exclaims, "What the hell is going on here?" The detective helps him out. "Rebecca is no angel, always in trouble." Morgan," What kind of trouble?" The officer replies," Name it. No one was surprised she didn't turn up at school that day." Morgan wants to know what that was not in the police report. The officer shrugs, "Why would it be?" Morgan becomes agitated again. "Because it's relevant!"
The cop defends himself again by saying she had run away six times before. Morgan concludes no one even bothered to look for her for two years and wonders if there was abuse. The mother had returned and overhears him. "No! We took her in when she was five years old." Something else that wasn't in the file – Rebecca was adopted. Something happened to the whole family. Her birth name was Garner.
Back in the cellar, the unsub brings Rebecca dinner. "You like chicken." She tells him she is sick and needs a doctor. And she also asks him to the chains off, and promises she won't escape. When he doesn't comply, she screams at him. "Why don't you just kill me?" The unsub turns around and says, "Because I love you too much, Rebecca." He turns before leaving the room and his entire face is covered in burn scars.
Garcia receives a call from Morgan asking for more information on the adoption. Rebecca Garner, she was adopted 13 years ago. Garcia finds the adoption records for Nevada, but they are sealed. "Unseal it," says Morgan.
Gideon is half asleep in hospital chair, but declines coffee from Hotchner. He still had doubts. "The press conference was the thing to do, right? It was the only way to go. I did the right thing… did my job." He too feels guilty about Elle, but Hotchner never tells him it's not his fault.
The surgeons are still working on Elle, who is still in the plane speaking with her father:
"What if I don't make it?"
"It's up to you, you have a choice, fight."
"I want to stay with you."
"Well, that's a choice too…"
Reid's mother, Diana, arrives at the FBI headquarters while commenting on how Reid drinks too much coffee and that is what makes him so skinny. She is a little angry as well. "You know I'm terrified of flying. Why did you have them arrest me?" Reid tells her she was not arrested, but taken into custody to protect her. She asks him how he can call it protection if he is forcing her to do the one thing that frightens her most.
When Garcia learns Rebecca's whole family had died in a fire caused by faulty electrical wiring in 1992, she calls Morgan. Rebecca had been found in the backyard. Her father, Randall, had been a teacher. He had tried to save rest of his family, but nearly died himself and spent years in the ICU at which point he put Rebecca up for adoption. Her father received a huge insurance settlement. Garcia then notices something else. The father had spent a few years at the Bennington Sanitarium. "Does that mean something to you?" asks Morgan. "Yeah, that's where…" Garcia silences herself in time by saying, "Gotta go," and she hangs up on Morgan.
Reid shows his mother around the office. "Mom, you can't grab things off the board. The bad guy knows things I told you, do you write about them in your journals?" She tells him her journals are none of the government's business. Reid tells her he wants to ask her some things about a man he thinks she might know, and he lets her watch the tape of the unsub. His mother recognizes the voice as belonging to Randall Garner and describes him as a very emotionally disturbed man.
Garcia fills everyone in. The Fisher King is Randall Garner, and he is Rebecca's biological father. Gideon tells Hotchner to go. "I will call you when there's any news. The only way the organizational level of the unsub can be so high is that he believes that it's al real, that he is the Keeper of the Grail. You have to make him understand it isn't real."
Diana is surprised. "Whenever he talked about Rebecca, he never said she was real. He spoke of a Rebecca, but he said all his children died in the fire. I really thought she was a metaphor. He believes you are all modern-day Knights of the Round Table." Reid introduces her to Morgan and JJ as they walk in the room as Diana continues to speak.
The team sits down and discusses the new information. When Diana tries to say something, Reid jumps up quickly and tries to get her to come with him, but she continues to talks and says a man gave her something at the hospital. It was a picture postcard of a house with an address on the back:
1024 Winston Dr.
Shiloh, VA 22485
The address is only 10 miles away, so the BAU and SWAT are deployed to the location.
On entering the house, Morgan, Reid and Hotchner find Elle's badge on the table. They know this is right house and the unsub wants them to know it. They have to be careful. Reid notices a shadow upstairs, and everyone moves to the upper floor. Morgan wants to storm in, but Reid wants to try and talk to him first.
"Mr. Garner, it's Spencer Reid. You were in the hospital with my mother. She might have confused you. We only want to help Rebecca, like you. That's why you sent the puzzles."
Garner answers, "Ask the question."
Reid tells him there is no magical question. And he explains to Morgan and Hotchner that Garner believes if Reid asks the magical question it will heal all of his wounds. Reid is moving so Garner can see him, despite Morgan and Hotchner telling him not to. But Reid assures them he knows what Garner wants. He hands his gun to another officer and walks toward the room where Garner is seated. Garner keeps telling him if he is the Grail, he has to ask the question. Reid replies, "She's not the Grail. She is your daughter, her name is Rebecca." Garner disagrees. "No, your mother explained it all to me."
Reid tells him his mother is a paranoid schizophrenic who would forget to eat if she wasn't properly medicated and supervised. This results in a surprised look on Morgan's and Hotchner's faces. Reid continues. "Your daughter is real. She exists and we are here to help her."
Garner turns around in his desk chair and to show Reid the row of pipe bombs strapped around his chest, and the detonator nearly pressed down in his left hand. Reid hesitates. "Hotch. Morgan. I think maybe it would be better if you guys waited downstairs." Garner keeps insisting. "Just ask the question and I will be healed and you may take the Grail. Just ask the question, Sir Knight." Reid continues talking to him. "I can't, Mr. Garner. A Fisher King wound cannot be healed by someone else. It's not a wound of the body. It is a wound of the memory. It's a wound that only you can find and that only you can heal. There is only one very important question, only one that matters. Can you forgive yourself?" Garner replies, "I couldn't save her. Tell me where she is and you can save her know. You already know where she is. I sent your mother the map."
Garner realizes there is no way he can be healed. "No, I can't forgive myself." Reid sees what is coming next, and backs up and turns around as fast as he can, diving through the hallway in an attempt to find cover, yelling "BOMB" the instant it goes off and the whole upper floor is transformed into a fireball.
With debris falling and Reid's trousers flaming, Morgan and Hotchner quickly put out the fire. "There was a bomb. You don't think we should know that?" Reid shoots back, "I told you to wait downstairs. The house is on fire. Let's go. Just let me think…Rebecca has got to be here." Then Reid remembers the postcard Garner had given to his mother. There were lights on in that photograph. Those of the room Garner was in, and also a light in the basement. And he realizes this is where they find Rebecca. When Morgan finally recalls that the youngest holds the key, Reid retrieves the key from his pocket, and they free her and leave the house before everything collapses.
"It has been said that time heals all wound. I don't agree. In time the mind – protecting in sanity, covers with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone."
In her dream state, Elle is back in the plane.
"Dad, I want to say it. That day, I was just mad. I wanted you to teach me to ride my bike I know you had to work. I was selfish and childish."
Elle's father replies, "Hey, you were eight."
Elle," I said 'I hate you daddy', the last words I ever said to you. So many times I wish I had said I love you daddy. I can't stay with you."
Elle's father," That's all right. You will see me again."
Elle finally gets to tell her dad she loves him, then her father fades out, and the hospital ceiling comes into view, followed by a surgeon's face. "Sleep. You are going to be fine."
The team gets the news that Elle is out of surgery and she will be all right. Rebecca will be all right as well. Hotchner thanks everyone, all of them, for their work. Garcia comments to that by saying they could have only gone so far without Mrs. Reid. Reid smiles, and goes to the main room where his mother is sitting and writing.
"Mom, you helped us save her life." His mother looks up at him. "Is it time for lunch yet? I'm lecturing everyone one about Tristan and Isolde." Clearly his mother is in her own world, but Reid just smiles and asks if he can attend the lecture too.
Diana, "Have you studied the materials?"
Reid, "I've had them read to me."
Diana, "That's the best way, isn't it?"
Reid, "Yes, by far."
Gideon visits Elle in her room, and holds her hand as she sleeps. Morgan and Garcia repair Garcia’s computer. JJ erases the riddle from the whiteboard. Reid reads to his mother in the plane taking her home. Hotchner goes to Elle's house, removes the crime tape, and gloves up to clean her blood off the wall.
"It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." Rose Kennedy