1. The Good Wife — It might not have been the best best episode of television this year, as some have suggested, but it was definitely the most exhilarating and fun episode of 2013. It crackled with chemistry, with animosity, scheming, and brilliant maneuverings. You get an episode like this on network television maybe once every time the Red Sox are in the World Series. Sublime, top to bottom. If you don’t watch The Good Wife now, start at the beginning. You’ll be finished with all four seasons in a month. It is that addictive. (See Joanna’s Vulture recap)
2. Masters of Sex — Five episodes in, and we’re already feeling so emotionally invested in these characters that when a tragedy befalls them, we are emotionally crippled by it. This episode was soul searing. I have adored this entire series. It is sexually charged, complex, brilliantly acted, and layered, the best show maybe in Showtime’s history of original programming. (See our Masters of Sex recap)
3. Sons of Anarchy — After last week’s return to form, I didn’t think Sons of Anarchy could improve on the season, but thanks to a fantastic side-plot with Walton Goggins’ Venus Van Dam and the rise of Queen Tara, Kurt Sutter turned in his best episode since the season three finale. (See my Uproxx recap)
4. The Walking Dead — Scott Gimple slowed but increased the anxiety level, as we were left wondering for another week if the infected will survive. Gimple also buttoned the episode with a sweet little twist that has already got viewers conjuring conspiracy theories. (See TK’s recap)
5. Boardwalk Empire — After slow-burning the burgeoning feud between Chalky and Dr. Narcisse through the first half of the season, that plot picked up steam in a huge way this week. Elsewhere, Eli Thompson is once again becoming a huge force in the series, and Shea Wigham is turning in a killer performance in the role of Nucky’s brother, who for the second time in the series may have to choose between his loyalty to Nucky and something else. (See Josh’s Uproxx recap)
6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine — Brooklyn Nine-Nine has gotten increasingly better as the series has progressed, and the week after it got picked up for a full season (and assigned the post-Super Bowl slot), Mike Schur turned in another hilarious Halloween-themed ep, which saw Peralta finally get the best of Captain Holt with a nifty little caper episode. The sitcom has hit its stride. Potential badge unlocked.
7. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — The episode, written by Game of Thrones David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, might have ranked higher, except that I’d watched The League first, so I’d already seen a Flowers for Algernon parody. Why would the two shows both do Flowers for Algernon episodes back to back, anyway? Sunny’s was the better episode, as Charlie Day, as always, turned in a hilarious performance as “smart” Charlie.
8. New Girl — Nick and Jess remain the cutest couple on television, upending Schmidt’s Truman Show-like friendship with Michael Keaton and sending him to his own apartment, making room for the return of Damon Wayans, Jr. in the next episode (in two weeks). (See Jo’s recap)
9. The Goldbergs — Just as my interest in The Goldbergs had begun to wane, they mixed Winnie Cooper in with a Say Anything plotline and a neat little homage to Sixteen Candles that hit me right in the Jake Ryan. The problem with The Goldbergs, however, is that it’s really good at landing the sweet moments, but the comedy continues to fall short.
10. Homeland — I considered Scandal and Trophy Wife for the final slot, but ultimately, I think that the Saul stuff in this week’s Homeland outweighed the useless Dana Brody subplot (and the Carrie wheel-spinning plotline) enough to elevate it into the top ten. Talk about a sh*t day for Saul. (See Cindy’s recap)