Dr. Scott finally made a vaccine! But the whole Nathan James crew might die of thirst before she ever gets the chance to test it. Whereas last week’s episode was all about explosions, this week was all about quiet perseverance.

In The Last Ship season premiere, we saw Chandler’s family briefly via video. Now we get our first flashback, to the day he left for the Arctic. Chandler’s kids were bummed to see him go—especially since he’d be in complete radio silence for the entire mission. As their parting gifts, his son Sam gave him a decorated photograph and his daughter Ashley gave him a bracelet she’d made herself.

On the Nathan James in present day, Chandler holds Ashley’s bracelet while listening to distress calls over radio. He’s hoping he might catch a signal from his wife and kids. Slattery enters the room, and the two leaders share a rare heart-to-heart. Chandler tells Slattery there’s still hope of reuniting with family, but Slattery isn’t so sure. Apparently he was already on shaky ground with his wife before leaving for the Arctic—and then she had to face their son’s death alone. But Chandler insists, “There’s still a chance, for all of us.”

Next destination: Costa Rica. Dr. Scott needs some monkeys to test her vaccine. If they can get there, that is—in the engine room, the ship’s equipment is starting to fall apart.

Meanwhile, Greene sho ws Tex around the sailors’ living quarters. When they bump into Foster, things get awkward. Tex doesn’t seem to notice, however—when Foster gets out of earshot, he makes a series of lewd comments about how “tasty” she looks. Greene, ever the saint, tells him there’s absolutely no fraternizing with Navy officers. So Tex asks the way to the lab. Dr. Scott counts as a civilian, right?

Finally we get a little insight into Scott’s personal life. On the background of her laptop, she’s got a photo of herself with a sunglassed hunk. She stares at the pic for a quick second before switching back to her work. And judging by the smile on her face, she’s just had a breakthrough.

Scott has sequenced all three strains of the virus, but needs Quincy to analyze the data. Chandler reluctantly agrees to let Scott speak to him—at which point Quincy essentially tells her to go to hell. First, he accuses Scott of ego-tripping, suggesting that she went to the Arctic to become a star scientist. Then he really digs the knife in. “What were you risking, really?” he says, “You’ve got no family, no friends. Truth is, you don’t have any skin in the game.”

Understandably, Scott storms out.

The ship’s engineering problems take a turn for the really freaking bad when a fire breaks out in Engine Room 2. Turns out they didn’t traverse the Guantanamo canal unscathed: coral ripped off the ship’s filters, making it impossible to cool the engines. The chief engineer is still laid up after her injury in Guantanamo, leaving her junior, Lt. Andy Chung, in charge. Two out of three generators die, and the ship loses power. So when the engineers manage get things (tenuously) under control, Chandler instructs them to divert all power to Scott’s lab. She’ll lose everything unless they can keep it cool.

With their power problems patched up (for now), Chandler sends Slattery to talk to Quincy. He starts off playing nice cop. As in, he literally explains to Quincy that he used to be a cop in Chicago. Then he veers into a long and nasty story about nineteenth-century Naval torture techniques. But of course, it’s 2014, and they’re not just going to torture someone. Slattery says they’d rather give Quincy the chance to redeem himself of his own accord—although he also purveys an ever-so-gentle reminder that anyone who doesn’t pull their weight on the ship is “gone.” So Quincy reluctantly agrees to work in the lab—as long as he can have someone to play chess with.

Only a self-centred idiot would be fussing over chess when so much else is going wrong. From her infirmary bed, the chief engineer gives Chung a pep talk—but that can’t actually solve the ship’s growing list of problems. It’s going to take a week to fix the filters, and in the meantime they can only run the engines for hour-long intervals. Making things way worse, their water supplies are dangerously low and the nearest island is a six-day journey away. And with the level of heat they’re dealing with out in the tropics, crew members are going to start dying after day three.

As the crew squeezes water from whatever supplies they can (beer, canned tomatoes, etc.), the engineers engage their first engine boost. As predicted, they only make it about an hour before the machinery is ready to blow.

At least things are going better in the lab. Quincy finished his analysis, and Scott actually looks happy with his findings.

As Chandler gazes at the stars outside (cue another flashback to his kids), Rachel interrupts him with a special tea-like drink she saves for special occasions. And a special occasion it is: she has a vaccine prototype. It’s time to do some tests.

But she only gets a small window to be giddy. The fuse box in the lab shorts out, meaning there’s no way to cool the space. And with no alternate power sources on board, their only choice is to sink Scott’s work into the ocean. But they’ll have to sink it deep, where the water is cold enough to cool the samples. Problem is, they won’t be able to move the ship without the case floating to the surface. So as a placeholder solution, Chandler says they’ll sink the case and stay put until they sort out a new way to air condition the lab.

They’re in a serious bind. Sink the case, save the vaccine. Move the ship, lose the vaccine. But unless they reach fresh water, the crew is going to start dying, making the vaccine useless. At least for now, Scott’s are chilled.

The next day, Chandler thinks they can make it to land if the wind is in their favour. Problem is, there’s not even a draft. So CMC Jeter takes Chandler aside for a pep talk. Years before, Jeter caused a terrible car crash that killed his wife and children. Every day since, he’s wondered why he was spared. Jeter tells Chandler he now has his answer: he’s on earth to follow Chandler—to save the world. “Our journey does not end here,” Jeter says.

And then, the winds literally turn in their favour. The flags start flapping, their hair starts blowing in the breeze, and they’re able to shoot three parachutes into the air to act as makeshift sails. Then they use the engine propellers to restore power to the lab.

But again, their celebrations are short-lived. After two days without water, the crew is extremely weak. Most of the sailors can’t even walk, and those still standing can barely speak above a whisper. The chances of them making it are starting to seem very, very slim.

And then, Lt. Granderson spots some seagulls. And where there are seagulls, there’s land.

They made it to the island.

Everyone lets loose like they’re on a sexy beach vacay—except instead of beer, they’re chugging water. Down in the engine room, Chandler brings Chung a snack and congratulates him on a job well done. Chung thanks him, but says he still feels guilty about the initial fire. He’s just looking forward to the chief engineer getting back on her feet.

That night, there’s lots of flirting happening on the beach. Tex tries to dance with Scott, but she blows him off. Then Greene spots Foster sitting alone on a rock, and it almost seems like he’s going to go over and strike up a conversation. But before he gets the chance, another hot sailor brings her a drink.

As for Quincy, he doesn’t get to leave the ship. But he does get a chess buddy: Bacon, one of the cooks from the galley. Bacon is not interested in becoming friends.

But you know who are getting mighty friendly? Scott and Chandler. As he once again flips through distress signals in the hopes of catching his family, she enters the room with a rather “meaningful” gleam in her eyes. Scott thanks Chandler for believing in her, but he says he didn’t really have a choice. She insists that he did—he could have gone back to his family weeks before. Then she slinks out of the room.

Stats of the Week
Number of women Tex hits on this episode: 3
Number of times Greene and Foster exchange awkward glances this episode: 3
Amount of pity Quincy deserves: none
Number of pep talks delivered this episode: 4
Regions/countries the ship has visited (or attempted to visit) so far: the United States, the Arctic, France, Guantanamo Bay, Costa Rica, some island in the middle of the Atlantic

Watch the whole episode here!