Best TV episodes of 2018 from Atlanta, Glow, The Good Place, more

Peak TV highlights

EW critics Kristen Baldwin and Darren Franich chose the best (and worst) TV shows of the year, but the whole staff got involved when it came to choosing the best individual episodes that aired in 2018.

10. “409” — The Affair (Showtime)

As the series’ perpetual “other woman,” Alison (Ruth Wilson) always deserved better than the stifled, lonely life she led — so in her final episode she imagines a different one, with a much happier ending, just before she dies. The premise sounds hokey, but trust it — and trust in Wilson, who gives a devastating performance in the perspective-fiddling drama’s most ambitious and most painful hour to date. —Shirley Li

9. “Where in the World Is Karen Walker” — Will & Grace (NBC)

Grace’s (Debra Messing) #MeToo moment is a standout, but our favorite episode has the gang trying to figure out why Karen (Megan Mullally) is MIA. It features bartender Smitty (Charles C. Stevenson Jr.), Anastasia Beaverhausen, and Jack (Sean Hayes) hissy-fitting at his mother — and it ends with an inspired sight gag courtesy of Will’s (Eric McCormack) too-dark-to-be-true beard. —Henry Goldblatt

8. “High-Like” — Insecure (HBO)

Future historians will try to understand Coachella, the drug-tripping, Ferris-wheeling, generation-defining music festival/pit of millennial hell staged annually in a desert infinite traffic hours east of Los Angeles. And this ep will be their primary source. Issa (Issa Rae) hooking up mid-ride is great, but we’re all Kelli (brilliant Natasha Rothwell) getting tased right as Beyoncé starts singing. —Darren Franich

7. “Janet(s)” — The Good Place (NBC)

The crafty afterlife comedy ventured down a whacked-out wormhole when cheery database Janet (D’Arcy Carden) pulled Place’s four lost souls into her void, accidentally transmogrifying them into Janet look-alikes. Watching Carden play Eleanor pretending to be Jason while rendered as Janet was one of many masterful mindforks, including a twist ending that surged with possibility. —Dan Snierson

6. “i” — All American (The CW)

If you said a show was tackling police bias, drug addiction and recovery, sibling rivalry, classism, a coming-out story, and race relations, it’d sound like HBO’s next award-winning epic. But doing all that in one episode? Sounds like a disaster. Yet this show about high school football did it beautifully. Coop (Emmy-nom-worthy Bre-Z) getting kicked out by her mom for being a lesbian is awful, but Coach (Taye Diggs) giving his son “the talk” was heartbreaking. —Patrick Gomez

5. “The Queen” — Castle Rock (Hulu)

Of course Sissy Spacek’s return to Stephen King’s multiverse would be magnificent, but who could have predicted it would result in an episode that skips through time, pits her against Bill Skarsgård, and kills off a major player? Maybe King himself. But for the rest of us, Rock’s best hour — penned by series co-creator Sam Shaw after his mom died, and a showcase for Spacek, whose character has dementia — was an unexpected, moving gift. —SL

4. “Day 429” — The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

Garbled conference calls, active-shooter training, an office-holiday-party hookup, a case that hinges on the testimony of an eraser expert — only The Good Fight could turn such mundanities into urbane, gloriously adult drama. And we shall never deserve the beauty of seeing Liz (Audra McDonald, resplendent in a silver bouclé suit) and Diane (Christine Baranski, luminous in a gold-and-black brocade jacket) facing off over passive-aggressive cocktails. —Kristen Baldwin

3. “Teddy Perkins” — Atlanta (FX)

Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) just wanted a multicolored-key piano. What he got was Teddy Perkins (Donald Glover in unrecognizable whiteface), a very strange man — who might not exist — with a famous musician brother and a taste for gloopily Cronenbergish ostrich eggs. Oh, he’s also building a museum in his house. Director Hiro Murai turns Glover’s pitch-perfect script into a multifarious thrill ride — part haunted horror, part comedy of manners — full of thoughtful meditations about Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and, of course, the dad who drops off Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club. —DF

2. “Andre and Sarah” — Forever (Amazon)

In this wrenching stand-alone episode, two “low-level realtors in the s‑‑‑‑iest part of California” (Jason Mitchell and Hong Chau, fomenting a magical chemistry) fall in love over Costco wine and frank, funny conversations about race, “the merits of marriage as an institution,” and pizza. This episode has (almost) nothing to do with Forever’s overall plot, so no need to add another show to your to-do list. At once a complete surprise and yet painfully relatable, “Andre and Sarah” is a gift that requires nothing of the viewer but 35 minutes and an open heart. —KB

1. “Mother of All Matches” — GLOW (Netflix)

This glitter-bombed primal feminist scream of a sitcom hit new highs with a tale of two moms. Tammé (Kia Stevens) freeways across California to visit her son. Debbie (Betty Gilpin) drops her baby off at day care — then auctions off everything in the house to spite the cheating ex-hubs. When night falls, these complicated women become Welfare Queen and Liberty Belle, cathartically playacting offensive ’80s jingo. An acting showcase for the remarkable Stevens (a real-life wrestler!) and Emmy-nominee Gilpin. —DF

To see what else made EW’s Best (and Worst) of 2018 lists, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

To see what else made EW’s Best (and Worst) of 2018 lists, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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