The episode begins with a school bus being hijacked and one student tries to dial 911 but she is not able to do so. At the unit, everyone knows about the 24 missing students along with the driver and teacher. The GPS is been disabled. They brief the cops saying that they might be dealing with more than one unsub. They assume that they should be within 200 mile radius from the abduction site. Garcia gets a call from the local PD saying that they found a bag pack full of the children’s cell phones from the second bus stop. Reid thinks that this could be some school kids and Hotch thinks that the target might have been more specific and the kids just came in the way.
Alex feels that things from the file of Roy Webster, the driver, don’t seem to be adding up. Webster has had a lot of altercations with the students but he hasn’t been heavily reprimanded. Looks like some kid got back for revenge for years of abuse. There is a woman on the bus, Carol. She is placed to watch over Webster’s bus. Wonder who she was keeping an eye on! Morgan speaks to Addison’s mother and asks her if she had any enemies. The mother looks nervous. JJ talks to Sean’s father about his run-ins with Webster. JJ then talks to Billy’s mother. Garcia and her new help check the sim cards from the abandoned phones and they find Addison’s phone has a picture which was taken at the time of abduction.
Hotch talks to a lady from the school and wonders why Webster was not reprimanded for his altercations and the lady says that being a driver can be very stressful and it could get a little bumpy with some unruly teens. Detective Richards informs Hotch that they found a body; it is Webster with two bullet wounds; one to his leg and the other to his chest. Garcia calls them and informs that the GPS wasn’t actually disabled, it was just masked and she has found the location of the bus and it is less than a mile from where they found Webster. They find the bus but it is empty. There is blood on the floor. The barn is registered to a woman and has been abandoned for a long time.
Moments later, they find the students but there are just 14 and they still need to find the other 10. We then see that the two unsubs lead the 10 students into an empty and strange looking building. They have a device tied to their neck and the unsubs are also teenagers. Why take only ten? We then see that the ten kids are in a locked up area and there are earphones in each ones ears. The unsubs are monitoring them from a control room which has monitors and other devices. They ask Trent and Addison to step forward. Each kid has been assigned a number. They need to comply with the rules and if they don’t then they have to suffer. Saying so, the unsub presses a button and there is sort of a current that passes through Addison’s neck. This can kill them. The kids also wonder what happened to Carol; maybe the unsubs killed her as well.
The game commences. They tell Trent and Addison to open a box which contains two flash lights. They say that the game is all about endurance. At the unit, Reid is unable to figure out a pattern for choosing the ten kids. Abduction of a bus, gas masks, shock collars, none of these make any sense. Rossi figures out that all this sounds like the Gods of Combat; it is a video game. In the game, one unsub asks Trent to go to the right and the other tells Addison to go to the left. Trent refuses to leave Addison behind and the unsub press the button and the shock collar is activated. Rossi explains the game to the team and tells them that the students were chosen according to their body type; like some are athletic, some are meek etc. They players are controlled by the two unsubs with the shock collars.
This means that the unsubs studied the students before hand and they hijacked the bus when it was most vulnerable. The player with the highest body count wins. Addison is in the game and she comes across Carol’s dead body. Rossi tells Hotch and Richards about the game and they infer that these guys are addicted to gaming and it triggered their affinity for violence. That is when the line between fancy violence and real violence blurred. This is an elaborate set up. This means the two unsubs could have been friends. Reid infers that if they are so violent, then they need to look for people who have conduct issues and those who have gotten kicked out. Garcia’s new help manages to figure out that if the players hack into the game and get the walkthrough for the secret levels then they are kicked out and they lose total access to the game.
This is what spun their heads to building up a real game. JJ thinks that this is a competition. As the game continues, the guy who is controlling Addison manages to shoot down Trent as Trent is late in pulling the trigger. Garcia finds out that two players who played from the same ip address were kicked out at the same time for hacking into the game. Friends or siblings? In the game, it is time for round two! It is Wendy’s turn and Billy volunteers to take her place. the guy who controlled Addison shoots Wendy and the two of them end up arguing. Garcia finds out about the guys; they are brothers, Joshua and Matthew and their parents are divorced. So in the game, Joshua is controlling Addison and Matthew is controlling Billy now. The game kept them connected and it gave rise to sibling rivalry.
Now it is Billy against Addison. Garcia picks up on an underground frequency; thanks to the hint her help gave her. She kisses him. He then goes and tells the team the radius where this frequency is emitting from. Billy hides from Addison. Garcia intercepts their signal and establishes contact with Billy. Matt and Josh lose their signal. Garcia talks Billy through removing the collar. He does it successfully. She tells him that the team is on its way. Billy then tells Addison that they are safe. Matt reboots the system and realizes that someone hacked into their system. Their location is compromised. Josh picks up a gun and says that killing everyone is the only way to end this. Matt follows suit. The team arrives at the paper mill. Billy and Addison see the EXIT sign.
Matt gets to Addison and is about to shoot her when the team arrives and arrests him. Morgan and Rossi find Billy and ask him to drop the weapon. Josh arrives and is about to shoot when Morgan shoots him. He is dead. The remaining kids are rescued. Matt sees that his brother is killed and he says, “I guess I won”. Garcia asks her new friend out for drinks and he says that he has plans and that there are some reservations that he had made. Garcia is upset. Rossi takes all her communication devices and invites her home to have an eighteen year old scotch. The episode ends.