Episodes that paved the way for the Dunder-Mifflin staff to miss him as he goes
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Season 2's 'The Client'
(As I said in the introduction to this gallery, this isn't a list of the funniest "The Office" episodes of the Steve Carell era. That would include outings like "The Injury" or "Diversity Day" or "Conflict Resolution," which featured Michael at his most annoying and/or clueless. This, instead, is Michael at his best, the episodes that helped pave the way on his journey from jerk to relative good guy.)
"The Client" (11/8/05): To that point, it was somewhat baffling that Michael had risen to the job of branch manager, let alone how he had managed to hold onto the title. Then he took corporate supervisor (and unrequited crush) Jan Levinson on a sales pitch with an important potential client, and we and Jan got to witness Michael's almost idiot savant gift for landing clients. Jan was so impressed, in fact - and drunk from all the booze Michael had plied the table with - that she actually went home with him that night. From that point on, we would periodically see Michael pull off some miraculous feat of salesmanship in order to justify how he survived so many other disasters.