In 1977, frustrated FBI hostage negotiator Holden Ford finds an unlikely ally in veteran agent Bill Tench and begins studying a new class of murderer.
The episode opens with agent Holden Ford dealing with a hostage situation. The man, Cody, is holding a woman hostage and is demanding to speak to his wife. Holden tries to talk him down and asks what Cody wants to say to his wife. He offers his help but Cody says that he can't help. He proceeds to blow his brains out. Holden returns to his apartment after the incident. He sees blood on his cufflinks and proceeds to wash it out. He sits in the dark as he reflects on the day.
Holden is seen walking into the FBI office building in Quantico. He sits waiting to see his superior. His boss congratulates him and tells him that he did all he could. Holden muses that he did everything by the book and yet...His boss tells him that he didn't lose one hostage. Because of what happened, Holden is withdrawn from the field and ordered to begin to teach classes.
The next week he begins teaching. He encourages his students to try to understand the suspect because it's the key to making any perp be heard. The goal being no body bags. His class ends and as he leaves he overhears another professor's lecture. He listens as the teacher asks where do we go when motive becomes elusive. Holden approaches the professor after class and told him that his speech really resonated with him. Holden proposes that they get a beer and they discuss how the craft has changed. He said how are they suppose to know what killers are thinking and he says that he doesn't know. The professor leaves and Holden strike up a conversation with a girl. They talk about criminality and criminal theory. They end up leaving together and head back to her place.
The next day Holden is seen running and going to the movies with the girl to watch Dog Day Afternoon. They head back to her house and have sex. The next day Holden talks to a director. He says we need to be talking to the smartest people. He gets approval to audit some classes.
He goes to the university in Charlottesville, Virginia where he sits in classes and listens to the professors as they talk about criminology. He talks to one of the professors and tells him that he wants to start a dialogue to hear their perspectives and insights. The professor says no and leaves.
Holden shows his class Dog Day Afternoon so that they can figure out what they did wrong during the hostage situation. He tells them to always expect complicated. He sets up situations so that they can be psychologically prepared for the reality of a hostage situation. His boss sets up a meeting with behavioral science so that they can go over the legitimacy of his roleplaying exercise.
He talks with Bill Trench about it. Bob calls him a big blue flamer: someone who is too eager to do good. He says that he just wants to be a better teacher. Bob offers him a job to work with him by traveling to different locations and talking about what he's teaching. Holden says yes.
He has sex with his girlfriend and he asks her why she's with him. She says because he's smart. He goes with Bob to their first teaching. There they talk about psychology. How people are motived to do things. Afterwards, Bill tells him not to make it too complicated, to keep things simple when teaching.
Later they are approached by a cop who tells them about a current case. He tells them about a woman and her son and how good they were. Landlady found the bodies. They had been dead for four days. He doesn't understand why people do this to each other. He brings them back to the station where they look at pictures of what happened. The cop tells them that there is no evidence. He gets upset when the FBI can't help him.
Back in the car, Bob and Holden talk about how they don't know what happened. Holden is very upset about this. Bill tells him that he's a mixed bag. Someone who doesn't know anything. Bill tells him the next time he wants to talk about stuff like this to call his girlfriend.