Last year, Serial took the podcast world by storm.
I listened to Season One, and I was immediately hooked. This original Serial, a spinoff of This American Life, tells the story of a murder in Baltimore, Maryland, back in 1999. The story unfolds in “serial” form (hence, the title :) ), drawing the listener in, week by week. The first season of Serial was wildly successful with 2.2 million listeners per week. . It was the first podcast to achieve a record 5 million downloads on iTunes.
Because of the gi-normous success of Season One, the Serial folks promised more. Season Two begins a new story, following the same serial format of unfolding a bit more week after week.
And now, much to the delight of, literally, millions of fans, Season Two has begun. You can listen to it as a podcast, downloaded it to your computer or stream it directly from the website, here.
The story this year: (copied from the Serial website)
In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.
President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory.
Hailey canceled its celebration. The army launched an investigation. Finally, in March, the military charged Bergdahl with two crimes, one of which carries the possibility of a life sentence. Through all of this, Bergdahl has been quiet. He hasn’t spoken to the press or done any interviews on TV. He’s been like a ghost at the center of a raucous fight.
Now, in Season Two, we get to hear what he has to say.
For this season, Sarah Koenig teams up with filmmaker Mark Boal and Page 1 to find out why one idiosyncratic guy decided to walk away, into Afghanistan, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider. It’s a story that has played out in unexpected ways from the start. And it’s a story that’s still going on.