We open with Rossi at home. He is on vacation, probably the time off they are all required to take each year as mentioned in previous episodes. He is interrupted by a phone call from Hotch who tells him they have a new case. A case that has details very similar to one of Rossi's old unsolveds.
That old case, dating back to the 1990s and dubbed "The Butcher", was a series of kidnapping, torture and murders of several young blondes. At first Rossi is against the notion that the Butcher was back in action but quickly becomes convinced as they gather more information. Hotch however takes more convincing. Eventually they come to realize that it is The Butcher with the help of a partner, his own son.
The title of the episode is a multilayered reference. We start with the departure of JJ, whose name plate is still on her office door. Then we have reference to Ellie Spicer who has become attached to Morgan as a kind of godfather/confidant (something Prentiss is a tad snippy over). Next is the discovery that the killer is suffering dementia and memory loss and is trying to recreate his last kill (but due to his growing condition never will). Coby, the son, is trying to help his father remember both the killings and simple day to day information. He also argues with his father over things he remembers that his father says are not true. Things that tie into a memory Coby has actually attempted to forget -- the memory is watching his father kill his mother.
The episode is also interesting in regards to the notion of relationships and the power they can have over people. Coby is groomed by the very person that should have been protecting him into being a killer and submissive to his father's will even after the man grows weak and frail. On the flip, Morgan and Ellie share a tragic moment that creates a bond that is therapeutic for Ellie. It calms her, makes her feel safe even though Morgan is on the other side of the country. I can't help but wonder if Morgan has finally found the woman, or rather girl, that would make him give it all up. He has always played himself as a playa, destined to never settle down. But we know from previous episodes that family is important to him. Be it the family he was raised in or his BAU family. Add to this his promise to Matt Spicer to protect Ellie and I can buy the idea that in the very near future, Morgan might leave the BAU to, at the least, transfer to Los Angeles to be nearer to Ellie.
The one thing that saddens me about this episode is that it shows, to me, just how disposable JJ was as a character. She's gone and it doesn't feel like anything is really missing. The briefing meeting run by Hotch feels perfectly normal, there's no need for a press conference, the local cop is barely seen (allowing the focus to be on the team). The episode is book ended by Rossi's writing work, first by his block and then by his jumping into something (possibly about the Butcher which is one case it is noted he never wrote about). JJ just isn't missed. And a part of me wanted something to be done or said that would bring up her absence during the case and not just the moment of removing her nameplate, presumably so it wasn't trashed. When Gideon walked off at least we got Reid's abandonment angst moment. I really wanted someone to slip up and say her name, forgetting she wasn't there. Or something.
All in all a good episode. Although probably not one that I'd repeat view with any obsession, just not that good.