There are good episodes such as "All That Remains", "God Complex", "The Good Earth", "Alchemy" and "The Lesson", and also some disappointing ones like "Magnificent Light", "Through the Looking Glass", "The Wheels on the Bus", "Magnum Opus" and "The Replicator" (potentially good story arc, and a quite effective one for most of the season, that fizzles out badly which was a shame), not to mention a mostly decent "Zugzwang" before frustrating with its slap-in-the-face ending.
"Brothers Hotchner" is an example of a good if not great episode and satisfies mostly as build up to Season 8's finale, which as indicated above was a disappointing and inferior episode. "Brothers Hotchner" is not perfect. Sean's lack of contact with Jack begged for an explanation, which we were robbed of. Sean's phone call to Hotch was completely pointless and makes one question why he did.
Blake, at least in Season 8 with a few exceptions as she grew on me in Season 9, still leaves me cold, Blake is one of those dull "just there" characters that took a while to fit.
However, the production values are without complaint. It's very well shot and lit and is overall stylish, gritty, classy and atmospheric. The music is moody in the haunting and melancholic sense and fits well, without either enhancing or distracting from it. The direction keeps the momentum going but lets the case breathe and the script is one of the tightest and focused ones all season.
On top of that, the story is intriguing with the right amount of suspense and tautness, with a creepy enough unsub and a chilling ending. The acting is very good, with Thomas Gibson's performance being outstanding.
What made "Brothers Hotchner" was the team interaction and the little character moment. Just love the bond between the team, which is really sweet, close-knit and like a family, and they work cohesively together. There are a number of parts that are especially great.
The interview/interrogation with Rossi, Hotch and Sean was very interesting and tense, with a great contrast of Rossi's calmness and Hotch's direct intensity. Appreciated that Strauss was more sympathetic and supportive than usual, when usually she's cold and dictatorial with a grudge against Hotch that was never properly explained.
Garcia is very funny too and not the annoying caricature that she was in too many of the latter season episodes (particularly in Seasons 9 and 10, and in a few episodes of Season 7). The Rossi and Hotch opening up scene was touching, loved Rossi's genuine concern and support which is a very tender and personable side to "The King of Sass". Reid's use of force when defeating the unsub was great.
In conclusion, good if not quite great episode. 7/10 Bethany Cox