'Scandal's' Bellamy Young on Savage Season 4 Finale: "I Don't Know How Mellie Will Cope"

The actress behind the first lady breaks down the shocking events of the season four finale and her hopes for Mellie Grant.
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"Scandal"

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season four finale of ABC's Scandal.]

Be careful what you wish for, Mellie Grant.

During Thursday's season four finale of ABC's Scandal, the first lady (Bellamy Young) finally got what she wanted — to become an elected official — but it came at a major cost: the lives of 16 innocent grand jurors and quite possibly her marriage.

After being revealed as Operation Foxtail, Rowan — operating under yet another fake name — used Mellie's political ambitions and blackmailed her for what wound up being the names of the 16 grand jurors who were poised to bring command and black-ops group B613 down. Armed with the information, Rowan threatened Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and got him to kill all 16 of them, in one of the season's most shocking scenes, setting Rowan free (and making David Rosen sick). Everyone in the court who heard the testimony is now dead — save for David.

As it turns out, Mellie's willingness to give up the names — in a bid to cover up her affair with Andrew, as well as Fitz and Olivia's relationship — winds up costing Mellie her marriage as Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) kicks her out of the White House.

Here's how it all goes down: Mellie confesses to her role in the deaths of the grand jury to Cyrus. Cy then threatens David to get Olivia and Jake to recant their statements to the FBI about B613. Rowan wipes all of B613 off the map (including releasing Mama Pope), erases "Rowan Pope" and becomes a free man as Eli Pope.  

Meanwhile, Elizabeth North (new series regular Portia de Rossi) — who also played a role in handing over the names — is appointed chief of staff after Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is canned. Elizabeth, in a power play of her own, tells Fitz about Rowan and all about how Mellie — and Cyrus! — had a hand in the deaths of the grand jury. 

As for Mellie, she's celebrating her victory and already talking about a presidential run when Fitz admits he knows what she did. He says they are not a team and kicks her out of the White House. Cyrus plays dumb, but Fitz knows the truth: Cy had Olivia and Jake arrested, released Maya and worked with the man (Rowan) who killed his son. He then fires Cyrus as Elizabeth is appointed Fitz's new chief of staff.

While Olivia (Kerry Washington) and company weren't able to get the best of Rowan, they were able to bring down Eli Pope, who was thrown in jail for embezzlement — using B613 money OPA planted in his account that they claimed was stolen from the Smithsonian. Elsewhere, Quinn figures out that Huck was blackmailed into working for Rowan — and says that he doesn't deserve to be with his family (or OPA). He then begs Quinn to shoot him. 

After the dust settles, Jake (Scott Foley) says his mission to look out for Olivia is now complete — and professes his love for her — but knows she's in love with Fitz. Jake encourages Olivia to go get what she wants — and she does. Olivia arrives at the White House and shares a steamy make-out session with Fitz out on the balcony where anyone could see them as the credits roll. 

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Young to break down Mellie's devastating decision and how the first lady could possibly come back from that — personally or professionally.

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How much do you know about where season five is heading?

Not one thing.

Mellie has sacrificed her soul — and marriage — for her Senate seat —

But I don't think she knew was doing either of those things, especially because Fitz was so for her and with her. It was so sweet these last few episodes, because, although she might not have his heart, she had his partnership and that was enough for her. She's really like, a "four crumbs and I'm good" kind of girl when it comes to Fitz. So for him to turn so swiftly and kick her out was an absolute kick in the gut. I don't think she saw it coming in any way, shape or form and I don't think she realized she was risking anything. She just thought it was finally her turn.

Looking back, does Mellie think it was worth it? She has the blood of 16 people on her hands, lost her marriage and her place at the White House.

In the moment where we see her walk out of the White House, I think there is a significant turn of a real paralysis and shock. The enormous cost is so overwhelming. I don't know how she'll go forward — especially because not that long ago, she couldn't even get dressed or act right because she was still mourning Jerry. So all this new, fresh ugliness, I genuinely don't know how Mellie will cope.

What about Mellie and Elizabeth North? How is their relationship going to change now that they know they played a central role in the deaths of the grand jury?

The power tables will be flipped; we'll do a 180 with Lizzie and with Mellie. Lizzie takes Cyrus' job so she's on the inside and Mellie's on the outside. It will be all that cruel, dismissive abuse that Mellie heaps on Lizzie. It's going to be time to eat a lot of crow. I think there'll be a lot of begging, a lot of, "Please, may I have access?" "Can you let me in?" "Can you help me?" I can't imagine our sweet Lizzie Bear will be all too excited to open her arms to embrace Mellie again.

Rowan now has Mellie implicated in the deaths of these 16 grand jurors. She was so scared about having their dirty personal laundry released, but this is worse. Does this now permanently tie her to him?

It does, for the foreseeable future, yes. I absolutely think so. He owns her in some pretty significant ways. It will be interesting to see how she maneuvers out [of] that emotional captivity because she's really all his now.

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That's terrifying.

Yes! I'm interested to see how she'll handle that. She's definitely a fighter but she definitely could be in a PTSD moment, or who knows, she and Rowan could reign supreme in her evil domination of the whole world. (Laughs.) It's so hard to say with Mellie. I just keep hoping for a scene with Guillermo. I hope one day Mellie and Huck will have something to say to one another.

Because he's implicated in their deaths, too, after Rowan threatened to harm his family.

Yes! There's so many people I never get to act with on this show — like Katie, Scott and Guillermo. I hope I get to go over there [to the OPA side of the set] for a minute.

Do you think there's an opportunity now for Mellie to come in to the OPA fold with Huck and Quinn a little bit?

I would go over there for a minute. Shake it up! Yes, but who knows!

Olivia could not take Rowan down but did get manage to get "Eli" arrested. How is Mellie going to fight to keep him locked up now that she's an accessory to 16 murders?

Assiduously, but I don't know how. We got him on tax evasion so she could strengthen those laws in Virginia. That's the most she can do right now — and to pull any strings she can pull. But any dealings with Eli would be under the table. You have to remember that Mellie doesn't know who Eli Pope is. I don't think there was news coverage of this quiet worker at the Smithsonian being arrested for evading his taxes. Mellie hasn't connected the dots. It will be interesting to see how that all unfolds.

Fitz has kicked Mellie out of the White House. Do you think there is any saving their marriage?

I have to think so; I mean, I have to remain optimistic. I know Mellie loves him, to her own detriment. It will be interesting to see how Fitz feels with having everything he's wanted right at his fingertips now. Seeing how his dreams really fit with him, because sometimes when we want something so much, the reality of it is not what the dream of it is. I think that's probably what Mellie has to hope for in her heart of hearts: that it won't be what he hoped with Olivia, when she's not a taboo sort of "catch me now or never" sort of fantasy. In Mellie's mind, she did everything for him and her hope is that he'll remember that and will be loyal.

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How do you think a divorce, should that happen, could color her position in the Senate?

That would be interesting, right? Those are some ugly colors! (Laughs.) When you bring politics into the mix, it must get rather explosive, but she knows so many things on him that would be absolutely devastating, and he on her. To see that play out in a very public arena between these two people who have also had a hand in running the country, I think it truly is interesting. As was mentioned in many of the episodes leading up to the finale, Mellie might pick up a few points here or there if she were a single mother and going through a divorce, since there's no one that can't sympathize with that. All these deeply human issues are made even more interesting when they go through the prism of politics because everyone really gets to have their opinion on it.

What kind of senator do you think Mellie might be? Especially knowing that she no longer has the president's support.

First of all, I think she is such a capable human — I was going to say woman, but [I] just think human is a bit more apt. It's interesting to see her in this moment, where she might be feeling very resentful, to be coming into a little bit of power. In fine Mellie fashion, I imagine she will be both heroic and tragic and manage to do some terrific things and manage to make some really hubris-driven gaffes. But also in Mellie fashion, I know it will never be boring!

Fitz's first call after kicking Mellie out was to Olivia — 

I know!

How do you think Mellie would respond knowing that this is the first thing Fitz does? Is she surprised? Is she resentful?

When Mellie was walking out of the White House, I imagined Fitz had already called Olivia. Like, "Oh yes, finally, he's rid of me. He'll move Olivia right in here." I don't think it will shock her in the least.

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What about the press? Do you think Mellie is going to try and get out in front of this? Who's her ally right now?

Mellie is very much on her own island right now. She might have allies in pain or betrayal — like Cyrus — she might reach out to someone wise, like Leo (Paul Adelstein), to help spin things. But in her heart, and in truth, she is alone. I hope she takes baby Teddy with her! I wondered about that when we were shooting it. So that remains to be seen. I hope she still is being a lovely mother, but yeah, for all intents and purposes, it's a very lonely time for her. I feel so sorry for her.

Mellie has attempted suicide in the past. Is that something that is crossing her mind at this point given the blood on her hands?

That's the big question. It's like an electric bull: How long can you hold on with one hand to something that is bucking you so hard? Your whole life, your professional life when there's only trauma sort of coming at you, and some it is self-made, it's not a pity party by any measure. How long can you keep it up? And you're right, Mellie is an emotional woman and takes things very deeply, whether or not she allows people to see that pain or not. But I have thought that, I have wondered whether or not she'll be able to weather this with any solid base under her feet or whether it will really upend her in a huge way and make where she was over the death of little Jerry look like a sneeze in the face of the measles or something.

It's been one huge emotional season for Mellie. Where does she go from here? What is her new endgame? Does she still want to be president?

All she's left with is her ability and her profession, so that's really all she's got, and hopefully baby Teddy. There is still hope, I hope. When she gathers her emotional life somewhat back into a manageable place, that's all she has to cling to. I think she'll be more driven than ever toward her goal. It's likely that Fitz will get behind vice president Susan Ross instead of Mellie, so there will be much antipathy there. Like in life, the best revenge is living well, so for Mellie to continue to succeed — to ultimately transcend what turned out to be an ugly chapter for her in the White House —that's the only goal she can have right now. I don't think she has ever presumed that she thinks she will win Fitz's heart back in a timely fashion. I don't think that she can even hope that she will get back in the White House as first lady, so I think what she has to double down on is her own ability and her own belief in herself and her own road and let good living, although it may not be clean, be what wins in the end.

What did you think of the Scandal season finale? Leave your thoughts and hopes for season five in the comments section below. Scandal returns next season on ABC.

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