By Natalie Abrams
Updated October 30, 2014 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Nicole Wilder/ABC

After a rough—albeit gif-tastic—start to the fourth season of Scandal, Mellie has finally traded in her Uggs and fried chicken for behavior more fitting of a First Lady. But all that will be somewhat tested on Thursday’s episode, when a former First Lady (Carol Locatell) comes back into the picture. Little does Mellie know, the previous FLOTUS is far from upstanding.

“This is not anything Mellie is feeling,” Young tells EW. “She’s not in the mood. She’s just pulled herself together. She just isn’t quite ready to jump far into the deep end of propriety and appearances, but Bitsy really surprises her because there’s so much grit, steal and story underneath that shiny little southern smile. Instantly, it is as if she’s looking in a mirror. Mellie really sees herself in Bitsy.”

Bitsy’s arrival will really push Mellie over the edge, reinvigorating her to yearn for more power in D.C. In other words, Smelly Mellie is long gone. “Bitsy had found a way to actualize her potential and yet still play the appropriate feminine part, particularly because she was of a different era. But she very much inspires Mellie to find the roots to using her own power in the White House again,” Young says. “Mellie had drifted off that track and was looking for a purpose, and Bitsy really lights a fire under her.”

Does that mean Mellie will eye a stay in the White House past Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) second term? It’s certainly possible. “When they started back in California, they very much made a deal,” she says. “‘You first and I’ll be here besides you, and then me next and you’ll be beside me.’ On top of the absolute heartbreak of him falling in love with Olivia [Kerry Washington], that’s also been the fist-raising injustice of, ‘Hold on, you got your turn, it’s my turn.'”

Now that Mellie is getting back on the horse, that could mean there’s a chance to reunite with VP Andrew Nichols (Jon Tenney), who has been mostly MIA this season as Mellie dealt with the loss of her son. “Mellie is in the midst of reevaluating a lot of things in her life,” Young says. “She’s come back from the brink, so it’s really a time where she is both fearless and ready to act. Andrew is some of the great unfinished business of Mellie’s recent past. That will come to the forefront in delightful and delicious and surprising ways.”

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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