The Young and the Restless has pulled out all the stops during February Sweeps with emotional stakes so high, they're pulling planes down. But don't expect to be breathing easy any time soon. The can't-miss, nail-biting drama continues this week when Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) and Billy (Burgess Jenkins) realize that their apartment building is on fire -- and baby Connor is trapped inside. The following drama is so intense, there were panic moments not only on-screen but also on set! Soap Central caught up with Egan to get the behind-the-scenes details as well as the inside scoop on how Adam gets involved in the fiery drama.
As if a disastrous plane crash wasn't enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, Y&R has added a burning building to this week's exciting material. Both Chelsea and Billy are horrified to realize that the fire is out of control, especially considering all of their kids -- Katie, Johnny, and Connor -- are inside. Chelsea manages to grab Katie and Johnny and get them to safety, but Billy has to battle the smoke and flames in an attempt to rescue Connor, who's fast asleep in his crib upstairs. "It's just pure, pure panic," Egan previews of the scenes, which begin unfolding today. "There's smoke, there's fire... and the minutes are passing, and really, it's a person's worst fear. You see people exiting, people exiting, people exiting, and it's not your loved ones. There's not a worse feeling in the world. So Chelsea starts to just really panic."
Just as she's on the verge of a breakdown, Gabriel (Justin Hartley) arrives and is terrified to learn that Connor is trapped inside the fiery building. He immediately rushes inside to save his child, braving the flames and thick smoke pouring out of the structure. "[Chelsea has] more panic, more panic, more panic, and eventually he comes out with Connor, which is amazing," Egan says. "Obviously, it's a huge relief, like thank God. But then she's like, 'Where's Billy?'"
Adam explains that he wasn't able to carry both Connor and Billy through the blazing building and had to leave Billy, who's passed out on the floor inside. Not wanting to let Chelsea down, he rushes back into the fiery wreckage to save Billy -- which is a twist the actress didn't see coming. "It's such great irony, considering [the characters' history]," she explains. "What Adam did to Billy's [daughter], but then what Billy did to Adam in the car and with the gun, and so now, tables have turned once again. It's really great irony, especially because Adam is saving Billy, but Billy doesn't know that Adam is saving him -- he thinks Gabriel is saving him. So there are so many different elements to that, because he feels weird about Gabriel, and he doesn't like Gabriel as a person, so why is he coming back to save me in a burning building? It's so layered. And for me, too, is Adam doing it because he loves me and he knows I've come to love this man? Is that why he's doing this for me, kind of throwing me a bone and saying, 'Fine, I'll save Billy'? It has so many questions and so many elements to it."
In the moment, however, all Chelsea can think about is the possibility of losing Billy. And it seems all Adam can think about is the possibility of losing Chelsea. "Gabriel steps up, because I think he sees the pain in her eyes, and as much as it pains him, he decides to save Billy as well," the actress explains.
After Gabriel rushes back into the flames, a worried Chelsea tries assuring Connor that everything will be okay. But suddenly, her heart drops when she hears a deafening explosion from inside the building -- and she doesn't know whether Gabriel and Billy will make it out alive. "She starts feeling pure panic and pure terror," Egan says of the intensity that follows the blast. "She's come to love Billy, and they're in a very serious relationship, but she's also come to have a great friend and companion in Gabriel, so like I said, it's like your worstt nightmare, having people that you care about and love in a building that you just heard an explosion in, so I think she's just panicked and thinking the worst at that point."
Speaking of intensity, Egan says that the mood on set during the explosion scenes and the Winters family plane crash was unlike anything she's experienced before. "Our crew and David the designer, they did such a good job making it realistic," she says of both sets, adding that the plane crash set was especially impressive. "It gave me goose bumps to see it. And they're still cleaning up snow, weeks later! They're doing this whole deep clean... because there was snow everywhere, and everyone was bloodied up. It definitely made people more excited, because it was just really, really neat."
As for her own disaster-oriented storyline, Egan says: "We did a lot of the stuff with smoke, but we couldn't do too much because of the babies. We had the babies as part of our story, so we didn't want to do too much so we could protect their health. But it was really nail-biting because there's a fire and then there's an explosion, and we had real EMTs on set, which we often do, which is cool because they can tell us, 'No, you're doing that wrong!' We also had a lot of extras dressed in fire-fighting gear, and it just kind of added to the excitement. Even the babies seemed a little scared when they saw the firefighters, because it looked so real."
And, of course, as one could imagine, working with terrified babies is no easy task. "The older kids know that it's pretend, but the younger babies... definitely feel the energy, because there's a constant panicked energy in the scenes once the directors say action," she explains. "It's a little bit of a tricky challenge, acting-wise, because you're holding the baby, and you want to make sure they're safe and they're safely in your arms, but you're trying to make it a well-acted scene and have all these other challenges and obstacles... You're trying to make it a good scene, and that can be tough, because you're trying to get emotional, and then they'll say cut because the baby's jacket dropped, and you can't have a baby without a jacket in Wisconsin in winter, stuff like that. And they can't get their own jacket, because they're babies. So you're like, 'Oh man!' and you're just trying to get into it, and it's a huge other aspect. It's important to take care of the baby, so it's an added challenge."
In the end, however, Egan says it's all worth it, and the resulting scenes are to die for. "It's so juicy and so layered," she says. "It's always a great energy on the show, but it's a more excited, enticed energy, because everyone is like, 'What happens to blah, blah, blah,' or 'Are you going to blah, blah, blah?!' Everyone is really excited, because the show is just really juicy and good and kicking butt right now. This is the stuff that good soap operas are made of. I think everyone will be really happy and excited, when the show ends, to watch the next day and see what's going to happen."
Though it's a bit too early to know exactly what might happen between Chelsea and Gabriel (provided he makes it out of the burning building alive) when the truth about his identity hits, Egan say's she's excited to find out. "We all speculate," she says with a laugh. "I speculate with Justin sometimes, my friends ask me, my parents ask me, fans at the local supermarket ask me, and you know, I don't know. I think that as amazing as it is that he's alive, of course she will be so upset and angry. She'll have so many feelings, because she didn't even get to talk to him about the Delia death. By the time she found out that he killed Delia, he was gone. So she never got the chance to confront him -- not only about lying about that, but then in her mind, he dies, she loses the love of her life, and then he comes back as somebody else. And I don't know, if I were her, I think I would be like, 'How did you let me hug you? How did you let me shake your hand? How did you let me talk to you about you? How did you ask me questions about him and let me answer them?' Those kinds of things. So I think it's going to be fiery. It's just going to be explosive, because there are so many elements to it: happiness, but also betrayal and shock. She'll go back in her head and think about all of the conversations they had, and she'll have to ask herself and ask him, 'How could you let me speak to you about him when you were him and you were always alive?!' So I can't wait. I don't know what's going to happen, but it is so layered and so complicated, which is perfect for Genoa City."
What do you think about the high-octane drama hitting Y&R? Are you shocked to learn that Adam attempts to save Billy, considering the history between the two men? And what are you hoping for when it comes to the Gabriel/Adam/Chelsea/Billy situation, provided the men make it out of the burning building alive? Share your thoughts in our Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback..