After months of waiting and debating the podcast’s new topic, Serial is finally back.
The team at This American Life dropped the first episode of season two this morning, along with a description of their new case.
“Our first season was about a murder case few people had heard about. Season Two is a story a gazillion people have heard about: the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for nearly five years,” reads the announcement.
This case has been examined in newspapers, on TV and even by the U.S. military, and now, it’s Serial’s turn. Host Sarah Koenig writes that the story “spins out in so many unexpected directions” and focuses not just on Mr. Bergdhal (who she says is unlike anyone she’s ever encountered before), but also those affected by his decisions.
“Unlike our story in season one, this one extends far out into the world,” Ms. Koenig writes. “It reaches into swaths of the military, the peace talks to end the war, attempts to rescue other hostages, our Guantanamo policy. What Bergdahl did made me wrestle with things I’d thought I more or less understood, but really didn’t: what it means to be loyal, to be resilient, to be used, to be punished.”
According to an article published today in The New Yorker, the topic came about after Hugo Lindgren, a former editor of the Times Magazine and now the president of Page 1, a journalism-based film-production company co-founded by Mark Boal, came to the Serial team with some remarkable audio: about twenty-five hours of recorded phone interviews that Mr. Boal conducted with Mr. Bergdahl after he was freed in a prisoner exchange. “When I started talking to Bowe, I never intended for it to be anything other than background—the homework I do before a story gets transformed into a piece of entertainment” Mr. Boal told The New Yorker.
After much discussion, the two teams decided to collaborate and conducted additional extensive reporting in conjunction with and independently of each other. Like the phone calls with Adnan Syed in season one, the recordings will act as the heart of story and provide a lot of the narrative.