The first episode of the second season of Serial, the investigative podcast that became a pop culture sensation when it debuted in 2014, became available this morning (Dec. 10).
Sarah Koenig returns as the show’s host, but instead of cracking open an old murder case, this time she’s shepherding listeners behind the scenes of a global news story—illuminated by exclusive interviews conducted by Mark Boal, the scribe best known for writing and producing Zero Dark Thirty, the 2012 film dramatizing the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
The subject, confirming months of rumors, is Bowe Bergdahl, the disgraced US army sergeant whose 2009 disappearance in Afghanistan turned out to be voluntary—making his return home in 2014, after years of being held captive by the Taliban, fraught with animosity from fellow soldiers and the public. He’s been charged with crimes of desertion and misbehavior, and the military will soon decide whether to try him in a court-martial.
In today’s episode of Serial, and all this season’s future episodes, listeners can hear Bergdahl tell his side of the story for the first time.
As Koenig told the New Yorker recently, it’s full of surprises. The story “starts with one idiosyncratic guy, who makes a radical decision to leave his post, to walk away into Afghanistan,” she said. “And the consequences of this decision spin out, wider and wider, until you find out that the picture is not at all what you expected. None of what happened to Bowe or because of Bowe is what I expected.”