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Serial, the blockbuster This American Life spin-off that quickly became a pop culture phenomenon in 2014, is officially back. The first episode of the Peabody-winning podcast’s second season reintroduces audiences to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose capture by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan in 2009 prompted an ongoing controversy. "Suddenly, it really starts to sink in that I really did something bad," Bergdahl says of the moment he decided to walk away from his Army outpost, detailing his side of the story for the first time to screenwriter Mark Boal.
Bergdahl, who was eventually released as part of a 2014 exchange agreement made by the Obama administration that included the release of several Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, reportedly suffered through a "brutal captivity" under Taliban forces after fatefully leaving his post. Following a big White House celebration a little over a year ago, the five-year prisoner of war was recently labeled a "deserter" by Senator John McCain and other Republican officials. Bergdahl is curently awaiting a ruling on whether his case will go before a court-martial, the New York Times reports.
"As you can imagine, he’s been the subject of a lot of sound-bite coverage," Boal tells the Times. "He has a definite point of view about hit-and-run TV reporting, and so this was the opposite of that." In their own words, Sarah Koenig and Boal teamed up in an effort to "find out why one idiosyncratic guy" decided to abandon his post.
Grab the first episode of Serial's second chapter here or via iTunes.