The episode begins with a boy banging a door and asking his mother to open the door. He is asking her not to do it. Inside the room, the mother picks up a pair of scissors and considers killing herself. She then throws away the scissors and makes a phone call. The mother then drops the boy in front of a house and the kid tells her that he doesn’t want to do this all over again. She tells him that she is sorry and drives away. After she leaves, a van pulls up in front of the house and the boy looks at the driver and asks him as to what he is doing there. Next, Rossi is having breakfast with his ex-wife Carolyn.
They have a pleasant conversation that hints at some form of reunion. He asks her to come over to his place and that he would cook dinner for her. She agrees. Suddenly, Rossi's phone rings. It is work and he has to go. Carolyn smiles and states that it is glad to know that some things never change. Back at the office, Garcia explains the details of a recent child abduction. Nine year old Bobby has been missing for 48 hours. And mother Marlene says that she had dropped him in front of his grandmother’s house. The mother did not know that her son had been abducted as she left immediately after dropping Bobby in front of the house. The father is in prison. Next, the door to a bedroom opens and a man enters the room with food.
Bobby asks him when he can see his mother and he gets angry, throws the food on the table and leaves, locking the door behind him. Garcia educates the team that Marlene had severe depression with two suicide attempts. JJ talks to Marlene and she tells her that she was having one of her bad days where she was trying to hurt herself and so she wanted Bobby out of the house. But when she felt better, she went to pick Bobby up from her mother’s. Back at the house, Reid and Morgan have a look around. It's a total mess; except for Bobby's room, which is relatively neat and full of expensive things. Marlene is clearly compensating. Next, Bobby’s captor arrives and asks him if he wants to put an end to his mother’s troubles. Bobby innocently says yes. The unsub informs the young boy that he is going to "go help" his mother.
Next, after talking to people related to Bobby’s life, they infer that Bobby knew his abductor. They know that Bobby was a self-sufficient kid. They wonder how the abductor got into Bobby’s life. The unsub confronts the mother as she exits a grocery store. He strangles and stabs her. The next day, the team finds the mutilated body. Morgan now thinks that it is not about the boy, but the mother, Hotch is then informed that a four year boy has been kidnapped from a park. Morgan and Reid interview the distraught mother. It turns out the park is several miles from their home. They both notice that the mother is clearly going through some kind of drug withdrawal. So another "bad" mom! Well at least there is a pattern developing now.
She had visited a faraway park to buy oxy and Hotch thinks that the unsub would circle around to kill this woman too. The team realizes that the unsub is disposing of the unfit mothers. At the unsub's house, the recently kidnapped boy, Timmy, has joined Bobby. Bobby notices a bloody knife in the kitchen and he has a haunch that something terrible has happened to his mother. The unsub then uses a wolf metaphor to explain that sometimes the weak need to be killed, but that their young are always taken care of. Bobby is in tears. Meanwhile, the BAU team gives its profile to the local police. The unsub sees himself as a "rescuer" and was probably familiar with the kids. The unsub then goes to kill Timmy’s mother but he sees that she is in protective custody and he is enraged. Moreover Timmy is continuously crying for his mother.
He rushes into the bedroom and grabs Timmy. Next, Timmy wanders into the middle of a bar. We then see that Timmy’s father is at the house and he is surprised that his wife could let something like this happen to their son. So JJ interviews Timmy, who explains that Bobby is alive and being kept inside some house. Timmy then explains that the unsub is a "superhero" who he had previously talked to on the phone. He goes to the phone and presses a button with a picture of Superman. Rossi dials 0 and they realize that it is 911. The unsub is a 911 dispatcher. He takes a call from a young girl whose stepfather is abusing her and sends police while he writes down the info on a personal notepad. Garcia begins checking on names of 911 dispatchers with a history of childhood difficulties.
Rossi tells Emily about Carolyn and he tells her that Carolyn sent feelers as if she wanted to get back. Emily encourages him to take the plunge. Next, the unsub watches as the police lead away the stepfather, while the girl's mother protests. She says that the girl is making things up. The unsub then approaches the house. He identifies himself as the 911 operator and says he wanted to follow up on the call. The mother tries to shut the door in his face but he blocks the doorway with his foot and pulls out a gun. CUT to Garcia, who explains that she has identified 11 dispatchers who were working to take the relevant calls -- but only one who fits the profile; George Kelling. She also gives them details on the last call he took. The team leaves for the girl’s house.
Unfortunately, they find the unsub’s house and the girl’s house empty. Garcia then does some digging and discovers that George's mother committed suicide when he was 10. George tells Shannon that his mother was troubled and that he saw her jump from a bridge. He feels his mother was right in ending her life as she was content and her pain ended. Now, George helps bad mothers find the same "peace." Garcia then gives the team the address to George’s foster family which is an isolated farm residence. Both foster parents are now deceased so the house is empty. George, meanwhile, urges the girl to give him permission to "release" her mother. But Shannon resists. The mother is worried what George would do to her if she kept refusing. So she urges him to shoot her as it is the best way to protect Shannon.
Suddenly, Morgan, Hotch and J.J. storm into the room with guns drawn. Hotch tells the awful truth that George pushed his mother off the bridge and convinced himself that he "helped" her. Hotch then squeezes off a shot and hits the unsub in the leg. Mother and daughter are saved along with Bobby. Case closed. At Rossi's house, Carolyn congratulates her ex-husband on such a wonderful dinner.
They curl up in front of the fire. Carolyn then breaks the bad news; she is diagnosed with ALS and now she has very little time. She tells him that when the symptoms peak and when she is too afraid and weak, she wants him to help her leave this life on her own terms. Rossi cries. The episode ends.