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Scandal's Bellamy Young: Mellie Is in Survival Mode

And she'll do something she's never done before

Joyce Eng

If there hasn't been enough Mellie for you on Scandal the past two weeks, don't worry: She'll be back with a vengeance on Thursday's winter finale (9/8c, ABC).

"You're gonna get a good dose of Mellie," Bellamy Young tells TVGuide.com. "Mellie gets to do something she's never done before and something that she doesn't even expect herself to do. It was a story line that I really loved every moment of, even the uncomfortable parts. I loved what I got to say, I loved what I got to do. I'm excited for everyone to see it because I don't think you expect it."

Whatever Mellie pulls off, it is in direct response to the blow she was dealt at the end of last week's episode. Still believing she could blackmail Olivia (Kerry Washington) into helping her become POTUS by threatening to tell Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) that Liv was behind booting Rowan (Joe Morton) from prison, Mellie was stunned when Liv told her that she had already confessed all to Fitz. Now that her big gamble didn't pay off, it's back to square one again to get to the Oval Office. But don't expect Mellie to wallow in anger and pity before coming up with a new game plan.

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"I love this year because I think Mellie is completely Plan B-less and she has no one. She's gone down to Plan Z and is back at double A," Young says. "She's running out of things she can consciously create with her mind. She's hit rock bottom in a lot of ways. That breeds a real, organic, in-the-moment response to whatever's happening in her life, so she finds herself doing things she's never conceived of ... like telling Liv she was her freedom to get to the White House. She keeps finding these things, so she's learning about herself as these things happen, and this week will be exactly that. She's trapped in the corner with no moves, but she's such a survivor that some little part of her seizes control, charges forth and things go from there. She's in survival mode."

Though it'd be understandable if Mellie is out for revenge after Liv burned her so badly, the FLOTUS closet inheritor is the furthest thing from her mind. "Olivia isn't even a first on her list. First on her list are her kids because she's a single mom now," Young says. "There used to be this infrastructure in the White House with Fitz. ... Now she's got a place of her own and she's got a job. There are very personal, fundamental life issues she's got to deal with before she [thinks about] whether or not she pities or resents Olivia now or where she is on that continuum that is ever present."

If Liv is one of the last things Mellie will think about, Fitz isn't even on her radar. After she fantastically eviscerated him to shreds last month, the former first couple is irrevocably broken. "I would characterize it as very, very dead," Young says. "Mellie's tried to carry that torch on her back like a cross in a lifeless marriage. She put the cross down in that episode and she has no interest in picking it up again." Mellie's "zero f---s" attitude extends to Fitz possibly knowing that Mellie and Liv worked together to free Rowan. Since "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" played over Liv's whole confession -- a telling nod to their relationship built mostly on hollow words -- it's unclear what exactly she told him.
"We don't know if he knows about Mellie's involvement, but if he knows and feels betrayed [by Liv and Mellie working together], that's his problem. I really believe in my whole heart that Mellie does not care at all, like honey badger level," Young says. "She knows how hypocritical it was of him to throw her out and for him to be so high and mighty about the jurors. She does not care about him at all."

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Less clear is if Mellie cares about the fate of Rowan -- who's now been captured by Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and whom Fitz ordered Jake (Scott Foley) to kill -- or exactly how much she cares. One might think it's an easy answer for a mass murderer who killed your son, but with Mellie's ruthless ambition rearing its head, could Rowan being alive help her somehow?
"That whole thing is very complicated. I don't think she made [the deal with Liv] with any hope for any redeemed Rowan. I think she knew that probably at some point down the line, she was inviting a devil into her life, but one who could be an asset," Young says. "I think she very much regrets it, but she knew she had to do it. She knows he's awful. But with him out, she thinks she'll enable herself to do greater things in the future than if she hadn't and was completely powerless.
"Mellie cares about her life. It's 'I could've done something. I could've been somebody.' She has a second chance," she continues. "It's her second act. I think that's all she cares about. She doesn't want to waste another nanosecond thinking about what Fitz needs or what Fitz wants. I think for once in her life, she's fully present and is really, really ready to go after her dreams. Her dreams include family and also the presidency. No single mom has ever run for president. I think she believes with tenacity and courage, she can make that happen. She's really been butting her head against the wall for all of the first half of this season. This is really a breakthrough episode for her. "

So is Mellie's new aha moment bigger than her deal with Olivia? "I think she finally opens her eyes, looks to the left and sees a door. I would say one is more metaphorical and one is more literal," Young teases. "This episode, you're just gonna need to be ready. It's really seismic and pivotal and transformational and amazing, not just for Mellie, but everyone."

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.

Watch a supercut of Drunk Mellie