Once the boys are found, there is a sense of calm and assurance in everybody at the start of Thai Cave Rescue episode 3. Seeing that the boys are alive, journalists from around the globe have gathered in the small child in the small Chiang Rai province.
Millions of volunteers to a boring from across the world. The rains have taken a breather too, with only sparring showers now hitting the city. The Americans too sent in special forces to help. Now the question remains, how will they be brought out?
The parents are more confident now that their sons will be rescued and hence, go back home for a breather. A hydraulics engineer, Kelly, shows up at the camp, saying they need to delay the water going in. She briefs the Governor about it as well. Four hours is all they have unless the rain stops and the sun dries out the cave. They must get the water out. The water from the north is flowing into the south. The limestone in the mountain that wowed the children when they first entered the cave, is like a big sponge absorbing all the water. When the water crosses the red mark on the tape, the point of no return, the cave will be impenetrable. No one can go inside and the boys will die.
The cave would only become accessible in October again if they don’t act now. There are two SEALs inside with the boys. The food and warm blankets have cheered them up. The special forces work together to reach enough food and medical supplies for the boys before the cave floods more. They have three days until the food runs out. Now, they must identify more entry points from the side of the mountain. Kelly has an idea to lower the water levels. Pim escorts her to the place where Kelly figures the water is going in. She says if they dam the stream with sandbags, it’ll stop the inflow.
Dr. Pak has stayed back with the boys. He checks in on them. He gives the children letters from the parents. And there is also mention of Eak’s praise for keeping the boys safe all this while. There’s something wrong with Dom as they read the letters and one of the seals keeps them cheered up. The reason is that Dom’s mother didn’t write to him as the parents were directed to go home for rest.
The Americans get a geotechnical engineer, Jirasak, who says he can find the exact spot where they must drill to get the water out. The battle to lower the water is now fought on two fronts. Kelly and Pim ready the sandbags for deployment. Jirasak figures out the spot where they need to drill, but volunteers say that the hole is too small to go in.
The Americans then coordinate to make that happen. The next morning Kelly discovers her plan isn’t working. Dom is still upset for not having received a letter but Adul cheers him up. He talks to Dom about his family and how he has adopted a new one from his friends. They discuss each other’s feelings about family and loneliness.
Adul manages to cheer Dom up. Kelly’s plan is not working and Pim is getting tense. She confesses she was the ranger on duty when the warning should have gone out. In desperation, she spots the water flowing into a hole and proposes to Kelly to think differently about it. “It’s not a tap; it is a stopper, like in a bathtub.”
She says she knows of a place that dries up in the summers but floods in the rains, but the area around it remains intact. She takes Kelly there. It is an aquifer. They make their way to the entrance of the Saitong Cave, where they find the Aquifer. Although Jirasak’s plan fails, Kelly and Pim save the day. The levels start going down and Kelly asks for a dragon pump to keep it out. The Governor concedes drilling is not an option and chooses to use another rescue plan.
Episode 3 played strongly on Netflix’s production’s USP: accessibility to the boys. Interestingly, Netflix is the only one that got exclusive insights into how the boys survived inside the cave. Bits about the boys discussing their personal lives were always anticipated to be the emotional drivers for the series and they have certainly proved to be.
It makes up to be a small part of the episodes but resonates deeply with the viewer. One thing that the show has capitalized on is the remarkable underdog fight that everyone faced. The odds were straight-up stacked against the authorities, the divers, and the volunteers. No one gave them a chance. But their spirit and will to endure and keep trying eventually got them over the line.
They did the unthinkable and somewhere I feel that this Netflix series manages to capture the inevitability of the challenge better than the other iterations. Admittedly, the drama does veer off the retelling of some factual truths about the rescue. But that isn’t the point Thai Cave Rescue is driving home. And as a viewer, you only now come gradually to terms with this truth, having seen the first two documentary-like features on it.
Episode 3 also familiarized us with parts of the rescue that were hitherto unknown in popular culture.
So that added dynamic felt good. Overall, the series is made with heart and good intentions and should win you over, even if you have seen everything happen twice before this.
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