Thai Cave Rescue Season 1 Review – Netflix series offers an emotionally accessible perspective

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5


The rescue of the football team Wild Boars and their coach in Thailand, back in 2018, sent shockwaves across the globe. The Tham Luang Cave became an almost impenetrable challenge for the outside world as the relentless monsoon piled on.

Thousands of volunteers flocked from all corners and the collective effort paid off with all lives intact. The rescue became the center of intense media coverage. And since then, we have had two retellings – one a plain, yet compelling documentary, the other a big-budget feature from Amazon Prime. Both of these had something Netflix’s Thai Cave Rescue didn’t and vice versa. Hence, the big answer to “should I see this because I know what happens and I have seen it happen already on screen?” is yes.

To put it simply, Thai Cave Rescue offers a sufficiently distinguished narrative with more inclusive perspectives. The streaming giants billed their series as the first based on inputs by the soccer team and coach Eak. They are the first ones to have that accessibility and it shows up in the narrative.

Surprisingly, Netflix has another special documentary coming out on 5 October where we will get to see the real survivors from the cave talk about their experiences. It is to be left to the masses to decide if that is overkill or not but certainly seems a bit too much to me. Talking about the series, it is divided neatly into six parts, each episode setting the timeline up for the final efforts of the rescue.

Almost all the parts are played by a relatively unknown cast. Although the story in itself is so compelling that it can’t be sidestepped, the lack of big names helps. It helps keep the focus on the urgency of the situation and how every second until the boys were brought out mattered.

The predominantly Thai personnel behind the camera ensures that we get to see parts about the country’s cultural and social dynamics that the other features missed out on. Things like the fable of Kisa Gotami, the tale of the sleeping princess, and the undying faith of the people in spirits offer a good account of the Southeast Asian country’s rich heritage.

Throughout, there is a good use of drone shots to capture the majestic hill range and the towering peaks. There is an intimate connection with nature, as the Cave is positioned right in the center of cross-flowing river streams.

Rage and beauty are the deadly combination that brings alive the Chiang Rai province’s diverse natural ecosystem. Most of the action and tougher decisions are made in the command center set up just outside the cave to coordinate the rescue efforts. As rightly pointed out by one of the journalists in the stream, it became a melting potpourri of different languages cultures, and ideas to achieve the singular goal of getting the boys out.

There aren’t a lot of changes from the actual chain of events, although the makers have taken artistic liberties to make the series more streamlined. For instance, the characters of Kelly, Pim, and Jirasak are tailored specifically for the show. Recreating the actual details would probably have hurt the dramatic heft of the narration and hence seems like a good idea.

The overtly female touch, though, is partly annoying and partly a presumed obligation of our times. This creative choice arguably dampens the appeal of the narrative because of how unrealistic it looks. Not just this, there are certain areas that the makers have decided to comb over for the convenience of storytelling.

By no means is it a bad choice but it probably would have been difficult to reconcile with the emotional soundscape. The truly winning moments come from inside the cave, though, as we see coach Eak be a true leader and fatherly figure for the boys. It felt heartening to see character given the due in the rescue process because the fight inside the cave was as crucial as outside it. The other two features really failed to embolden his role in keeping the boys calm, collected, and hopeful in a world with scarce hope to cling to.

As many have regarded, Eak did indeed save the boys’ life and was in no way responsible for bringing them in. No one could have anticipated the monsoon hitting them early but their reaction to the crisis was inspiring.

In instances such as when Eak asks the boys to meditate and tells Phong the story of his own experience in the monastery to comfort him, we see glimpses of true heroics. Titan, Mark, Night, and others had a huge task ahead of them to somehow survive for more than 10 days inside that cave with no food and scarce fresh water. The general age range among the boys was 11-14, with only a couple of kids being 16 or 17. Just imagine how it all would have unfolded.

Thai Cave Rescue manages to present a poignant portrayal of the massive efforts made to unite grieving parents with their children. It defiantly underlines the spirit of men when they choose to come together and act as one to complete an unthinkable task. You certainly get to see a more emotionally accessible perspective of the rescue and Netflix has done a good job here to sensitively bring the story to life once again.

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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