By Natalie Abrams
Updated May 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Scandal. Read at your own risk!

Scandal‘s finale episode title “That’s My Girl” takes on new meaning when you realize Olivia Pope has played right into her father’s hands.

On the hunt for Mellie’s (Bellamy Young) vice presidential running mate, Olivia (Kerry Washington) realizes she can kill two birds with one stone: Free Jake (Scott Foley) from Rowan’s (Joe Mortan) clutches by making him Mellie’s choice for VP. Alas, that’s exactly what Rowan wanted: Jake on one ticket and Cyrus (Jeff Perry) on the other alongside Democratic hopeful Francisco Vargas (Ricardo Chavira). Who’s the real victim in all this? Poor Mellie, who’s none the wiser as to who she’s fallen into bed with. EW caught up with Young to get her take on this new turn of events. (Read our postmortem with Scott Foley to find out if Jake is still working with Rowan here.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jake is Mellie’s running mate. How does Mellie feel about him?

BELLAMY YOUNG: Jake and Mellie haven’t had many dealings. Mellie’s preconception of him is not as full as some people’s. Not that she’s going into it naïve, and definitely you will have seen that there were not that many other options. He’s definitely a fantastic option. It really gives her optimism for her ticket, but I think she has no idea what she’s getting into. We could do deep research on this, but I can’t think of a reason why Mellie would know that Jake works for Rowan. I think she has no idea that she just landed in Eli Pope’s lap.

Does she even realize that all of this was orchestrated by Rowan and Cyrus?

I can’t pull that string. Maybe Shonda [Rhimes] could, I can’t though. Scott and I haven’t really ever gotten to do anything together. I don’t think I know anything about the whole he was in charge of B613 thing. I can’t think of a reason why I’d have any understanding that that’s the hornet’s nest I’m walking into.

Even though Jake said he wanted to leave and be a normal person, Olivia forces him to be her running mate. Then we find out Rowan has orchestrated all of this. Do you think Jake is still working with Rowan?

I don’t know! And I love that about the finale script, because that is completely unresolved. I really think that will live in people’s hearts over the summer — believing in Jake, doubting him, wondering what game Papa Pope is playing. It’s easy to imagine Rowan’s hands on the puppet strings. People always underestimate Jake. He’s loyal to Liv. It seems his loyalty is a vulnerability. I just don’t know how active his is, whether he’s a pawn or whether he’s a king.

How does Mellie feel about going up against Cyrus in the election?

I know, right? It’s crazy! We lost our minds! I think she feels absolute, stone-cold dread, because she knows there’s nothing he won’t do. It’s not like being against a normal human, like Vargas. For whatever his strengths and weaknesses, you feel like you have the eye of the tiger, and you can outplay him. But all bets are off with Cyrus, because he is a monster, and he will do anything. It’s just a big next-level game.

Does Mellie even realize that Olivia has basically turned to the dark side at this point?

No. She was broken-hearted to get that information on the tarmac from Fitz about Liv killing Andrew with her bare hands, because she knew something had changed, but she didn’t know what. In the midst of the maelstrom of campaigning, there’s not been a moment to stop and assess and really take in that truth. I think Mellie doesn’t know what she’s dealing with right now. She really has no idea.

How do you think that’s going to affect their dynamic on the campaign?

There’s also the willful ignorance of a campaign, the magical thinking that gets you toward your goal, and everything else has to fall away. Mellie is definitely in the throes of that. But going forward, I just can’t help but think it’s been so nice this spring to have Liv and Mellie’s paths to be converging and have real points of warmth, mutual support, revelation, progress, and friendship to lean on each other. There’s no way of getting around the fact that the paths are diverging now, and that the chasm will become more and more extreme and impassible. There will be much room for folly, duplicity, and absolute destruction as the campaign goes forward. Not to mention the wrinkle that her father is behind us now. It’s going to be a beautiful Shondaland mess.

How do you think Mellie is ready to handle the upcoming election? What are her biggest strengths and greatest weaknesses?

She’s learned so much in the primary campaign. For all her years almost in office, for all her years on the sideline on the bench, on the arm of the man who is running the world, she had never been in the line of fire. She really made some glorious mistakes and some missteps in strategy and thinking. She learned a lot, though. That’s what I always love about Mellie: She falls with no grace at all, but then stands right back up, shakes herself off, processes it, and then moves very quickly forward. She’s going to be a formidable candidate, definitely against Vargas. There will be an undercurrent of extreme trepidation with anything that has to do with Cyrus, but she has a 1,000 yard-stare. She’s too close now not to get to the oval. She will be amazed at what she is capable of doing to get there.

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