The CBI head to the NorCal State University Museum of Natural History when the remains of a missing doctoral student in ornithology are discovered, half-eaten by flesh-eating worms. Jane (Simon Baker) and Lisbon (Robin Tunney) talk with a the student’s advisor (Zuleikha Robinson), one of her professors (Rob Benedict), and some of the victim’s fellow graduate students (Samantha Quan, Rosalie Ward, Casey Graf) learning the victim was well-liked but also envied for landing a prestigious grant that would cover the cost of her tuition and studies.
Jane and Cho (Tim Kang) track down the victim’s ex-boyfriend, a beat cop (Drew Rausch) who dumped her after discovering an online dating profile which Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) believes someone else created to ruin the young woman’s life. Grace’s computer smarts also gets her into a prestigious training program, but an increasingly distracted Bertram (Michael Gaston) pulls the plug on the enterprise since the CBI has no available money to pay for the training. Jane makes a stop into Bertram’s office to help the boss with his poker game which gives him a much appreciated win over the smug Judge Manchester (John Rubinstein) and gets Van Pelt her stipend.
After examining the words used in the detailed profile, Jane, Rigsby, and Cho hit the campus and set out to talk to their suspects again, this time looking for someone using similar phrases. However, after finding the culprit the CBI is no closer to discovering the identity of their killer although they do discover the victim’s doctoral program is far more cutthroat than they were initially led to believe. To catch the killer Jane enlists the help of Risby and Cho to perform a museum heist as the mentalist sets up one of his trademark stunts by performing a memory lecture to the victim’s classmates.
Despite the number of times Van Pelt finds herself on desk duty, her mad computer skills seem to have taken a giant step forward in this episode to lay the foundation for future stories and give Jane a reason to get involved in Bertram’s weekly poker game. The poker side-story works fine, although (like Grace’s increased level of aptitude on the web) it seems a little shoehorned in. Far more amusing is Jane’s gift of plastic dinosaurs from the museum’s gift shop that soon have Cho and Risby sniping at each other in the middle of the office.