Paul Drinkwater/NBC
Whitney Pastorek
February 06, 2009 AT 05:21 PM EST

To Be Continued! Ah, such beautiful words, binder clips! Last week was a stretch of an hour with too much misanthropy to be fun, but this — this was a perfectly constructed little nugget that left us wanting more, and proved yet again a theory that I didn’t get a chance to fully explain after the Super Bowl: That when The Office is at its best, the members of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch are enjoying each other, playing off one another, getting along in their bizarre and dysfunctional ways. They team up, they work together (okay, sometimes they work together to visit pain upon someone else), and we get caught up in their dynamic because it reminds us of our own. The coworker you can’t really stand but with whom you function more intimately than some members of your own family? That’s Dwight and Jim. That ”friendship” that’s solely based on a series of quid pro quos? Stanley and Andy. The slightly inappropriate and co-dependent relationship you have with your boss? Pam and Michael. And the creepy dude who’ll dispense useless advice to a potted plant and call it Jim? Creed. We all know these people. We have to hang out with them every day. And then The Officeexaggerates them, and makes our friends and neighbors look not so bad, I guess, unless you work with someone like Creed, in which case perhaps a call to HR is in order.

Cold open was a throwaway about the phone guy teaching Michael how to use the public address function, which led to a lot of heavy breathing, some high school principal/plane captain high jinks, and a rather disgusting speakerphoned call to the doctor about a mole (or possible cyst) broadcast to the whole branch before Jim went in and cut the cord. This was to be Michael’s only time in the office this week: After the re-shortened credits (guess the supporting cast gets piano music only on special occasions) it was revealed that he and time-and-a-half roadie Pam were out on the lecture circuit, making the rounds to the other branches — except Nashua, it’s still ”a little bit raw” there — so that Michael could teach them his extraordinary sales techniques. Or his ”eleven business herbs and spices,” as he put it in a glowing speech to the cameras, while Pam struggled to load the rental car behind him.

NEXT: It’s no party for Dwight and Jim

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