The first season of Sarah Koenig's smash-hit podcast following a 15-year-old cold case, Serial, almost single-handedly revitalized the medium of podcasting last year. Now there's a season two.
Part of the appeal of subject Adnan Syed's story in Season 1 was that it was ongoing, a cop show drama unfolding right before our ears. We had no idea how it would end, but everybody had (and still has) an opinion. Koenig, using storytelling skills honed on OG radio show and podcast This American Life, similarly reels us in with her next many-episode narrative. She follows the equally mysterious, but far more public case of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan who left his base, was captured by the Taliban, and then imprisoned for five years.
When he was returned in 2014, he was met with accusations of desertion, and the fact that he was traded for five Taliban prisoners lit the national conversation around him on fire. Earlier this year he released a detailed account of his imprisonment, but he hasn't been speaking to reporters about the situation at all. So how do you make a full season of podcasts about a guy who won't talk to you? Turns out he wasn't completely silent—he spent hours speaking privately to Mark Boal, the screenwriter behind Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker.
Both Bergdahl and Boal have released these tapes to Koenig and the Serial team, collaborating on research to uncross the many conflicting threads of the story. Recreating timelines, pointing out conflicts, asking out-of-the-box questions, and bringing hundreds of thousands of listeners along for the ride is what Koenig does best, and with Bergdahl's case, she has her work cut out for her.
You can download the first episode, DUSTWUN, on any podcast app or from Serial's official website—but if you're reading this, you probably already have the new episode in your queue and are just counting the minutes to your lunch break to go listen to it.