Hearing the Squarespace and MailChimp ads and Sarah Koenig’s voice can only mean one thing: Serial is back. The holidays have come early for fans of the hit podcast with the launch of season 2 on December 10th, 2015. From the creators of This American Life, Serial aims to tell one story, week by week.
Season 2 follows the story of Robert “Bowe” Bergdahl, a U.S. solider who was imprisoned by Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2009.
“I’m a prisoner. I want to go home. Bring me home, please. Bring me home,” said a detained Bergdahl.
In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team rescued Bergdahl, as part of a prisoner exchange for five Taliban members held at Guantanamo Bay. His return was then announced by President Barack Obama in a White House Rose Garden address, with Bergdahl’s parents – Bob & Janie, by the President’s side.
However, shortly after, Bergdahl’s return was tainted with speculation that he voluntary disappeared from his post. Former members of Bergdahl’s platoon labeled him a “deserter,” while others called him a “traitor.” These claims caused an abundance of controversy, leaving Bergdahl under intense media scrutiny and having to face harsh public opinion.
“In the old days, deserters were shot, right?” said republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of Bergdahl in October.
After an investigation by the United States Army, Bergdahl was charged with two counts under the Uniform Code of Military Justice: desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
Today, a top commander ordered Bergdahl to face a court-martial for the charges against him. Bergdahl could face life in prison.
Koenig, a journalist, executive producer & host of Serial, teams up with filmmaker Mark Boal and his production company Page 1 to analyze and discover this story. Bergdahl had been in many conversations with Boal.
Bergdahl, who has stayed away from talking to the press, is heard from in episode 1 entitled DUSTWUN. The premiere episode starts by setting up the incident and begins to figure out why Bergdahl left his platoon in the first place. DUSTWUN, which stands for “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown,” is the radio signal sent out when a soldier is missing or captured in a combat field, as described by Bergdahl. Koenig notes that Bergdahl’s five-year capture is the longest anyone has been held by the Taliban, and particularly, survived being held by the Taliban.
The episode features a first-hand account from Bergdahl, who provides details of how he felt and what his environment was like when captured.
“Just on the other side of that flimsy, wooden door….is the entire world out there. It is everything that you’re missing…that breath that you’re trying to breathe…that relief that you’re trying to get, everything is beyond that door,” said Bergdahl.
Soldiers who were a part of Bergdahl’s unit are also featured in episode one. They give insights of the day Bergdahl disappeared with personal recollections.
Through vivid details, listeners get a view of various perspectives about Bergdahl himself, his actions and the consequences of them through interviews, discussions, reflections and much more.
Serial has received rave reviews following a successful season one which told the story of Adnan Syed, a man convicted of the murder of his high school ex-girlfriend in 1999. Syed said he didn’t do it. Recently, a judge granted a new hearing for Syed to introduce new evidence. Syed’s initial trial was in 2000 and he is currently serving a life sentence.
After much growth and widespread attention, many are getting in on the ‘Serial’ action. Pandora is now offering the series on its streaming service. Earlier this year, Serial won a Peabody award, the first for a podcast. Serial has been downloaded more than 60 million times.
Serial works because it gives listeners an experience. It causes them to draw up imaginations, while thinking and considering of various points of views. Serial is addictive in nature with its descriptive, compelling details that make listeners want more. Koenig’s intuitive conversational style, relatability and professionalism is striking and bridges a connection to listeners that positions them as active participants. Serial is storytelling at its finest.
Along with Koenig, Serial’s production staff includes Executive Producer Julie Synder, Producer Dana Chivvis and Editorial Advisor Ira Glass.
New episodes of Serial’s second season are available every Thursday on Pandora, iTunes and serialpodcast.org.
Montclair State | New Jersey