Archie Panjabi, who plays the taciturn, canny, sleek, and sexy bisexual investigator Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife, will be leaving at the end of this season, the show’s sixth. A few years ago this might have seemed like a serious blow to the series, but The Good Wife has now shown itself more than capable of rebounding from the loss of a major character, and, besides, it’s been a while since Kalinda was truly a major character. It was probably time for her to go.
At the end of Season 2—a season for which Panjabi won an Emmy—Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) found out that Kalinda had once slept with her husband, effectively ending their friendship and cleaving Kalinda from the show’s main character. (As of now, it’s been 30 episodes since the two appeared in a scene together.) Still, up through the third season, we were slowly introduced to enticing, new information about Kalinda and her mysterious past. Once that mysterious past actually showed up in Season 4, in the form of a husband that is unanimously considered the worst plot-development in Good Wife history, a sort of retrenchment occurred: The show’s creators, Michelle and Robert King, seemed to conclude from that failed storyline that audiences didn’t want to know more about Kalinda’s inner life, when really I think we just didn’t want her sticking fingers she’d just stuck in her private parts in someone else’s ice cream.
Kalinda remains a kickass and reliable investigator in impressive boots, but it has been a long time since we saw her do anything besides track down impossible information and sexually appeal to everyone she encounters, of either gender. Six seasons in, it’s easy to imagine that an actress might be looking for something meatier to play than “low-burn smoldering.” Panjabi already has another talent deal in place, which, ideally, will have her starring in a pilot come spring. (I, uncouth though it may be to say on this occasion, will be curious to see how she handles a more loquacious, emotive part than Kalinda.) At least the rest of the season seems positioned to give Kalinda more to do than usual. As Alicia makes the pivot into politics, Kalinda’s history with Peter has already come up, and perhaps will continue to do so. May she go out with a bang—but not this kind or that kind.