The team heads to San Diego, California where three murders have occurred in five days. The unrelated victims were each brunette, female, college students (in different institutions) majoring in education or some aspect of child care, and were murdered in their off campus home. Each murder, caused by multiple stab wounds, was successively more violent. Because of the unpredictable nature of the victims' schedules, the team realize that the victims were targeted and stalked. They also come to understand that the victims are surrogates for who will be the unsub's ultimate target. During the investigation, more murders occur with slightly different M.O.'s where the child care issue becomes more a central theme and a key piece for the team to find the murderer before he kills again and before he gets to his final target. Meanwhile, Strauss reviews Hotch's grief assessments of the team. The scrutiny unnerves all on the team, but Strauss admits the reason for the scrutiny to Hotch.