Season 13 so far has not been too bad. It is already so much better than Season 11, which started off well actually but quickly went downhill, and has generally settled quicker than Season 12. As far as the previous Season 13 episodes go, "Wheels Up" and "Killer App" were particularly good. Up to this point, only "To a Better Place" was a little disappointing, with a lot of admirable qualities but also an over-familiar and not much special case.
"The Bunker" is another very solid episode. The case has some familiar elements where they were done before or reminiscent of, but also has enough nice and surprising turns to balance it all out. There is a good deal of suspense but also sympathetic emotion
The team work, the procedural aspects and how it's all solved evokes prime 'Criminal Minds', there is lots of each and it's all thought-provoking and delightful. It doesn't make the mistakes that many latter season episodes made (i.e. too much unsub, unsub revealed too early, problematically executed cases, too much reliance on convenience, lack of balance, too many soapy personal life subplots, team underuse and not enough procedural/delving into the criminal's mind). In fact, there is a sense that "The Bunker" didn't forget what made 'Criminal Minds' work so well in the first place. The twists keep coming and those towards the end are shocking.
Plenty of room for little character moments within the team, one of my favourite things about 'Criminal Minds' and something that lifts even the lesser episodes. Matt has settled well, is a likeable character and gels very well with the team, much more so than most new team members who either took a while to settle or never did anything for me.
Everybody does a great job with the acting, all the regulars are strong as ever, the unsubs intrigue and chills and the victims are some of the most sympathetic and interesting of the season, particularly Allie and Chrissy.
Visually, "The Bunker" is stylish and atmospheric, while the music is haunting without being over-bearing while having presence still, the script is taut with a touch of sweetness and poignancy here and there and the direction from Aisha Tyler (while not in the same league as Joe Mantagna, Thomas Gibson and particularly Matthew Gray Gubler when they've directed) is surprisingly credible, with some atmosphere enhancing shots in the hallway scenes.
However, although the reunion was heart-warming and touching, the climax ends too patly and was over too quickly. JJ and Reid's role in the climax, taking down on their own with no back-up, was just an idiotic and unrealistic decision considering what's happened in the past when that's happened.
Also felt that the personal life side story/subplot was under-developed and too brief, so much more could have been done with it.
Overall, solid episode. 7/10 Bethany Cox