Kari Matchett, Sendhil Ramamurthy

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer — that's what Joan's doing on Covert Affairs.

After her plan to relocate Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) to Phoenix blew up in her face when he pulled strings to secure a cushy promotion as her equal in a new CIA initiative, you might think Joan (Kari Matchett) is chomping at the bit to dispatch him again, but that won't be the case.

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"I think she wishes that he would just go away. But he doesn't!" Matchett tells TVGuide.com. "Joan, at the moment, is more in the place of trying to deal with the situation rather than get rid of it. I think getting rid of him is something she might consider down the road ... but this caught her by surprise and she's trying to figure out what his deal is. He's just a great nemesis in her life and a person who causes her a lot of trouble, but she can keep an eye on him if he's around."

That trouble will escalate in the remaining three episodes of Season 2, as Joan and Jai continue to try to work together while keeping their mutual resentment at bay. But not that much at bay. "The longer it goes on, the more they're butting heads," Matchett says, adding that there won't be any huge blow-ups between them this season. "I think in the third season we'll see an increase of that explosiveness. Right now, the tension is bubbling under the surface. They can work in harmony, but very rarely do they. They're just trying to get the upper hand on each other."

But such icy back-and-forths with colleagues shouldn't be new to Joan. Though little light has been shed on the tough-as-nails DPD senior officer, Matchett believes Joan has had tons of power struggles with men and women during her career.

"Climbing the ranks in the CIA is not an easy road for a woman, so she would've come up against the lot," she says. "I think this is exactly what Joan has gone through in her past to be in the position she's in. They're difficult waters to navigate, but I think she's been there before many times and has obviously come out of them."

Covert Affairs exclusive sneak peek: Joan tells Annie to do the job — in a nice way!

As she keeps a watchful eye on Jai, Joan will learn to count on her team more, including Auggie (Christopher Gorham) — with whom she shared her concerns about Arthur being incommunicado in Berlin two weeks ago — and Annie (Piper Perabo), in whom Joan sees a bit of herself. "I think Joan was in [Annie's] exact position years ago and that's why she's so tough on her. She wants to push her," Matchett says. "As Annie matures into herself as a CIA officer and ascends the ranks, Joan has been mentoring her and realizing that she can trust her more and more."

That is evident in Tuesday's episode when Joan gently explains why she chose Annie to take on a mission in Russia, as seen in this exclusive clip:


"There's an ever increasing trust between all of them," Matchett says. "We'll see them all as allies in the world of the CIA." Against anyone in particular? Like, say, Jai? After all, he does something in the Season 2 finale that greatly affects Joan and Arthur (Peter Gallagher), according to Matchett. "Maybe they'll turn into allies against Jai, but I haven't seen that script yet!" she says.

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Another script Matchett has yet to see? Joan and Jai having violent hate sex after their terse scenes — a theory bandied about by her and Ramamurthy.

"Jai and Joan on the desk! Desk cleared! I think it would be great. I would love for that somewhere down the road. It would create a lot of tension," Matchett says. "Sendhil and I have been joking around with the writers about it. I think the writers think we're joking, but we're serious."

Covert Affairs airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on USA.