Eric McCandless/ABC
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January 29, 2015 07:40 PM

After the death of her son, Scandal‘s first lady went through a deep depression this season – but actress Bellamy Young says playing the grieving Mellie Grant was “the most fun I’ve had on the job.”

“When we had the table read for the first episode of the season, I wasn’t really sure what the tone was supposed to be,” Young tells PEOPLE of coming back for season 4 of the hit ABC drama last summer. “But I have the best bosses in the world and they really helped me explore the darkness. But Mellie also was the only one telling the truth in the White House. She got to walk around in her bathrobe, eating fried chicken without a bra on and tell everyone exactly what she was thinking. It was a blast. I loved ‘Fat Mellie.’ ”

Over the course of the season, Mellie has gotten through her depression with a newfound focus on becoming the prominent political player she once was.

But that doesn’t mean the suspense and drama is gone from the series, which returns Thursday after a winter hiatus.

“In this first episode back, we do something we’ve never done before,” Young says of Thursday’s episode, which she says is basically a stand-alone episode focused on answering the question “Where is Olivia Pope?”

“I think fans are going to need until next Wednesday to catch their breath,” she continues. “I basically held mine for 42 minutes straight when I watched it.”

Scandal returns Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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