Archie Panjabi

The end of The Good Wife's second season left a marriage and — more heartbreaking for fans — a close friendship in its wake as the revelation surfaced that Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) had once slept with Alicia's husband. But those fans still mourning the end of Alicia and Kalinda have a new twosome to watch out for: Kalinda and Eli Gold (Alan Cumming).

"I am as excited about Kalinda's relationship with Eli as I am devastated about her relationship with Alicia," Panjabi, who won an Emmy for her role last year and is nominated again this year, tells TVGuide.com.

"Here you've got two people who just instantly connect. They can read each other's minds and because of that, they're quite truthful with each other because they know each other so well that it's better to reveal the truth than it is to withhold information. ... They're two people that think the same way."

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After sharing zero scenes together in Seasons 1 and 2, two of the legal drama's fan-favorite characters will come together in a big way in Season 3 when Eli runs his first campaign in-house from Lockhart Gardner. Their close working relationship will push Kalinda into politics and result in a renewed sense of job satisfaction shortly after she considered leaving the firm to give Alicia (Julianna Margulies) space.

"The question is: Is she fascinated with working in the political sphere or is it that it's with Eli Gold? She's very fond of him," Panjabi says. "Even when I do scenes with him, I can't help but have a smirk on my face because there's just something about Eli Gold's character that makes him so unique that Kalinda's excited and fascinated by. She definitely likes working with him."

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However, her new partner in crime will complicate other aspects of her job, and not just because of Eli's ties to Alicia. "It is getting tough because she's dealing with Diane's stuff and with Eli's stuff and sometimes the two kind of conflict," Panjabi says. "What's interesting is that I'm stuck in the middle because I have to help Diane (Christine Baranski) and I have to help Eli. I get the feeling that Kalinda, even though she wants to be fair, can't help but want to help Eli Gold."

Her urge to aid and protect Eli is strikingly similar to what Kalinda feels for Alicia, despite the end of their friendship. "She has always and will always have a very soft spot for Alicia. That's just her DNA," Panjabi says. "There is a connection between these two women and she does respect her personally and professionally so I think Kalinda would always look out for her."

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Case in point: Kalinda telling Will in the season finale that Alicia and Peter had split, which eventually led to the night in the presidential suite for the longtime will-they-or-won't-they couple. In spite of her helpful interference (unbeknownst to Alicia), Panjabi says she truly doesn't know which way Kalinda and Alicia's strained relationship will go this season.

"The ball is really in Alicia's court as opposed to Kalinda's court, so I think Kalinda is constantly testing the waters to see how Alicia is going to react to her," she says."That will be the challenge in Season 3, is how much is played out in front of the other workmates, whether they do talk or they don't, and whether they make that effort to work together."

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Even if they manage to find common ground, losing Alicia's friendship will continue to haunt Kalinda this season. Although she may resist getting close to anyone again, a familiar face may change her mind. "Kalinda is so frightened to get into a relationship with anybody right now after what happened with Alicia, but Cary's matured now and the question will be: Is she genuinely attracted to him for sex and love or is it brotherly companionship?" Panjabi says. "She herself doesn't know, but I think that's something that [creators and executive producers] Robert and Michelle King are really keen to develop and see what comes out of that."

That romantic tension with Cary (Matt Czuchry), as well as her estrangement from Alicia, will lead Kalinda to question what she really wants from life — one of the character's bigger struggles this season. "You never see Kalinda in a serious relationship; she's fairly promiscuous. Does she continue to do that? Or does she end up having strong feelings for someone? Could it be Cary? I think the question will be what does she want from life? What does she want in terms of relationships," Panjabi says. "We're going to learn a lot more about her than we did in the previous two years. We get a bit more of an insight into what this character is like and what makes her tick."

The Good Wife Season 2 DVD is out now. Season 3 premieres on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c on CBS.