Natalie Abrams
August 03, 2017 at 01:30 PM EDT

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Scandal is nearing the end.

After six seasons of political intrigue, the cast members of the Shonda Rhimes drama are preparing for the difficult task of saying goodbye.

“Everything is bittersweet,” says Bellamy Young, whose Mellie Grant will be well into her presidency when the show returns, thanks to a brief time jump. “We’re so grateful to be together for another year, but the clock is ticking, so every moment feels precious.”

Scroll down for more from Young, including how Mellie will feel if she finds out Olivia (Kerry Washington) revived the black-ops group B613.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does it feel being back on set for the final season?
BELLAMY YOUNG: Everything is bittersweet. We’re so grateful to get to be together for another year, but the clock is ticking, so every moment feels precious. These days are magical, and they’re almost over, so we’re just trying to drink as deeply and fully as we can of the magic while it lasts. And we spend a lot of time vowing to be friends forever and making plans together for after we wrap. The show may end, but this family will live on.

Will there be a time jump in the new season?
At the start of season 7, we pick right up where we left off in season 6, but you know time is always elastic in Shondaland, so by the end of that first episode, we’re well into Mellie’s presidency. We really get a chance to watch her grow into being president — a dream she’s had for so long, but dreams are never quite what you expected when they come true. We also get to watch Olivia come into her own source of power in the White House.

Anything you can tease about Mellie’s mindset when we pick back up with her?
I think Mellie is full of optimism, clarity, and hope when she takes office: She’s long known how she’d govern if given the chance, and I think she must feel like a bird released now that she’s actually in her (gorgeous! new!) Oval. She harbored no naïveté that this job was easy, but she’s up for the challenge. She welcomes it. And I think she feels almost invincible with Olivia at her side. There’s been so much she’s wanted to accomplish in her eight years of proximity to the Oval; now that she’s in it, she’s knows what she wants to get done, and she has a clear idea of how to accomplish it. I also think she always feels the weight of history on her shoulders: She is the first female president, aside from Sally Langston’s tenure when Fitz was shot. She has complete faith in her ability and her vision, but she also knows her every step, every decision, not to mention every hairstyle and every outfit, will be scrutinized simply because she’s a woman. She doesn’t have the luxury of messing up. Too much is at stake.

What does Mellie’s relationship with Olivia look like this season considering Liz is hiding some pretty major things from her?
I think Mellie feels invincible with Liv at her side. They’ve been through so much, and are the stronger for it. She knows that together they are a formidable team. I think she really believes that together, they’ll be able to make real progress for the country: to right the centuries-old perspective of the patriarchy, yes, but also to accomplish so many of the policy goals that have been shared dreams since Fitz’s first campaign. These are smart women with very similar perspectives and a solid history in D.C. I think it will surprise them both as they come to find out the areas where they are not aligned. And of course, should the truth ever come out about how Olivia’s path has veered … well, I have to think that that would spell WAR between them. And we all know that would not be pretty. But for now, Mellie respects Liv: She knows what an asset and an ally she is. She’s excited that they are finally getting this time — and knows that together? They can change the world.

Scandal returns Thursday, Oct. 5, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. See our full gallery of behind-the-scenes photos from Scandal here.

 

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