Serial's Second Season Starts, And It's Quite Different From Its First

"Good grief, I’m in over my head."

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army soldier who spent almost five years in Taliban captivity after walking away from his outpost, is finally telling his story in the Peabody award-winning podcast "Serial's" second season.

Late on June 29, 2009, Bergdahl left the U.S. Army outpost he had been stationed at in eastern Afghanistan with nothing but "a disguise, a knife and some provisions." The Taliban captured him in the morning.

Fast forward to May 2014, when the soldier went home. A U.S. Special Operations team flew into Afghanistan and traded him for five Taliban inmates who had been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

His return prompted a debate over whether Bergdahl planned to desert his unit or not. Some of the soldiers who fought alongside him claimed he had "deliberately walked off" into enemy territory, according to the podcast's introduction.

Absent from this debate has been Bergdahl's own perspective. 

NPR journalist Sarah Koenig teamed up with Mark Boal, an award-winning film producer and writer, who allowed Serial to use the interviews he'd done with Bergdahl for a potential movie. Together, they seek to get to uncover "why one idiosyncratic guy decided to walk away, into Afghanistan, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider."

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. -- Sarah Koenig

Episode one, released Thursday morning, reveals what was going through Bergdahl's head when he made the decision to walk away.

"Good grief, I’m in over my head," he said. 

The podcast's first season, also produced and narrated by Koenig, zoomed in on the unsolved murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999 and those implicated in the killing. Koenig brought to light the perspective of Adnan Syed, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her murder.

Last month, a Maryland judge ordered to reopen Syed's conviction based on new evidence and testimony, which many attribute to the podcast.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated that episode one was released on Friday. It was released Thursday.

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