The head of the FBI Behavioral Science unit, Jack Crawford, calls on profiler Will Graham to assist them catch a serial killer. The killer has now kidnapped eight women, all similar in appearance and always on a Friday. His most recent victim is Elise Nichols. Graham has been teaching at the FBI academy and isn't too keen on going out into the field. He is particularly empathetic and has a tendency to get far too involved in these types of cases. Crawford arranges for a well-known psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter, to work with him and ease the stress. It seems Lecter has his own plans for Will.
A Minnesota serial killer leaves his victims' bloodily labored corpses strangely exposed, with body parts missing. FBI Behavioral Science unit chief recruits field work-reluctant, uniquely empathic FBI academy profiling instructor Will Graham to understand the killer. Will realizes it's a brilliant cannibal but there also seems to be a copycat at work. Will turns for advise to highly esteemed psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, who agrees to be his mentor but actually has his own, grim agenda.
- A young criminal investigator named Will Graham, suffering from Asperger's syndrome, is enrolled by the FBI to investigate a strange serial killer who kidnaps his victims - but decided to give back his last victim. Graham's capacity to empathize with everyone else's minds allows him to visualize the crimes how they were committed - but this one eludes his understanding. Another specialist, a psychoanalyst named Hannibal Lecter, is called in to help him. As an estranged team, they investigate the mysterious serial killer - and an even stranger copycat who suddenly appears, giving them new clues as to the true killer's identity and motives: he's a cannibal - but, after discovering his true identity, Lecter warns him the FBI is about to arrest him. The serial killer is killed by Will Graham and his last victim is saved - but has Will Graham gone to deep inside the killer's mind? And who is the strange copycat that appeared right after Lecter was called in to help?