Serial Season 2, Episode 1: DUSTWUN
December 10, 2015 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Bowe Bergdahl without preamble, and in (some of) his own words. In the middle of the night, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl grabs a notebook, snacks, water, some cash. Then he quietly slips off a remote U.S. Army outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into the dark, open desert. About 20 minutes later, it occurs to him: he’s in over his head.
posted by jferngler (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh wow. I'm excited to dive in. This was not the sort of case I was expecting for season two. Thanks for the post.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:02 AM on December 10, 2015


And the obsession re-asserts itself.
posted by samthemander at 7:06 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


FanFare is on it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:14 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's get let's get let's get let's get kimped.
posted by Beardman at 7:14 AM on December 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


NYTimes
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:18 AM on December 10, 2015


Late Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings on Bergdahl, from 2012

This season will be tough to listen to for a lot of people, military members and non.
posted by sallybrown at 7:26 AM on December 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just finished the first episode. I'm definitely hooked. I remember when it was rumored what the topic would be, some people were saying "why such an already well covered case?" But this first listen has me convinced there's a ton about this we do not know. Particularly since this will be the first time we get to hear form Bergdahl himself. I hope some people who've defaulted to "he's a traitor" can listen with an open mind.
posted by dnash at 7:28 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


"That's me, calling the Taliban"

!
posted by damayanti at 7:29 AM on December 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's a timely start to the podcast; there's a new Congressional report on the prisoner swap that freed Bergdahl which among other things, was of questionable legality under Presidential authority.

Perhaps Season 3 of Serial should be about Benghazi and come out in September 2016.
posted by Nelson at 7:52 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would love to see Season 3 cover the bombing of the MSF hospital.
posted by sallybrown at 8:03 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I did a little squeal in my car this morning when I saw a new Serial podcast on my phone... YAY
posted by widdershins at 8:32 AM on December 10, 2015


This is a nice surprise, IS IT NOT?
posted by ikahime at 8:33 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to get ahead of the Internet Speculation Engine and remind you that these are real people with real lives that you're all going to dissect and theorize about for the next several months. Bowe Bergdahl is my wife's cousin (removed once or twice) and last year we had to make the family reunion Facebook group private because of all of the members of the press who were trying to join and hoping to show up at the reunion. It'd be keen if that kind of thing happened less.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Virtually everyone is someone's cousin. Bergdahl has chosen to let his case be discussed in this very specific medium, presumably with the advice of people who saw what happened to the people involved in the Syed case. I feel for you, but no one here has remotely suggested anything resembling "Hey, let's go to their family reunion!", and, frankly, I resent that you're tarring us with that brush.
posted by Etrigan at 9:19 AM on December 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


The rampant speculation about the Syed case on this site and elsewhere, as though it were a new season of True Detective, is exactly why I would like to remind folks that these are real people in a real story. The many discussions around Season One of Serial were, for the most part, pretty gross.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:32 AM on December 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel like this story will not lend itself to the kind of Junior Detective Wanna-be people who went off on their own missions to dig up dirt. It's not like we can go drive the same streets or visit the camps. I'd like to think discussion around this season would end up centering around things like what it's like to be there in Afghanistan, why are we there in the first place, why do we still have Guantanamo Bay, etc. I don't think those are topics that can be "sleuthed" by poking around into people's lives, but instead just discussed by sharing experiences and opinions.
posted by dnash at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like this story will not lend itself to the kind of Junior Detective Wanna-be people who went off on their own missions to dig up dirt.

I plan to hang around my local Best Buy and ask their shift manager the tough questions anyway.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:59 AM on December 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Perhaps Season 3 of Serial should be about Benghazi and come out in September 2016.

Serial, Season Three: Obama's GoonPurge
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:09 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


With headlines like "In new ‘Serial’ podcast, Bowe Bergdahl says he likened himself to Jason Bourne before capture", I'm not sure anything good can come out of this. A big cluster of ugly and stupid.
posted by k5.user at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2015


"there's a new Congressional report on the prisoner swap that freed Bergdahl"

"House Republicans Denounce Obama’s Handling of Prisoner Exchange"

"which among other things, was of questionable legality under Presidential authority"

Uh-huh.

"Perhaps Season 3 of Serial should be about Benghazi"

Yeah. This has wendell writ all over it, eh?
posted by dglynn at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2015


With headlines like "In new ‘Serial’ podcast, Bowe Bergdahl says he likened himself to Jason Bourne before capture"

Yeah, that headline is overly simplistic compared to the actual conversation in which he described what his feelings/motivations were.
posted by dnash at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The rampant speculation about the Syed case on this site and elsewhere, as though it were a new season of True Detective, is exactly why I would like to remind folks that these are real people in a real story.

Yeah, I haven't ever listened to the podcast, but the way it makes people talk about real people like they're fictional characters is all kinds of icky. It happened with Season 1, and it's definitely starting again with Season 2.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2015


Serial Tumblr
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:23 AM on December 10, 2015


I haven't ever listened to the podcast, but the way it makes people talk about real people like they're fictional characters is all kinds of icky.

Yeah, despite being a big fan of TAL I was late to Serial; finally listening to it, I was really surprised by its popularity and dismayed that it, gross and padded and just plain waaay below the standard I was expecting from Koenig/TAL, was the 'success story that broke podcasts to the wider public'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:42 PM on December 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I haven't ever listened to the podcast, but the way it makes people talk about real people like they're fictional characters is all kinds of icky. It happened with Season 1, and it's definitely starting again with Season 2.

The thing is, this happens to every news story. Murder in your hometown? John from Peoria thinks the police should look at the boyfriend, it's always the boyfriend. A duck steals a sandwich? 200 comments on Metafilter about the duck's motives. There's no difference between Serial doing the story today and 60 Minutes doing it 20 years ago, except for the Internet. Should there be no discussion of news on the Internet?
posted by Lyn Never at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Humans inevitably end up talking about people they're hearing about a LOT but don't know in person like they're fictional characters--because to use they ARE. Hell, I'll never meet any of the people in Serial, so in a way they are fiction to me and vice versa. Same with people we hear in tabloids.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:06 PM on December 10, 2015


I'm a servicemember who knows people who took part in the search for Bergdahl right after he went missing. People died during said search.

At the same time, I think that 5+ years in Taliban control was enough punishment for the guy.



I definitely don't agree with the continued promotion and back pay the guy got in captivity. That should have been pulled when it turned out he left on his own recognizance. Some of us earned stripes.

Kick him out, but don't punish him further. He lived a life that most of us can't even fathom.
posted by SeanMac at 7:53 PM on December 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I definitely don't agree with the continued promotion and back pay the guy got in captivity. That should have been pulled when it turned out he left on his own recognizance.

He hasn't been convicted of anything or been offered (as far as I can tell) or taken any nonjudicial punishment. Until he is, he should be able to keep his rank.
posted by Etrigan at 8:01 PM on December 10, 2015


He hasn't been convicted of anything or been offered (as far as I can tell) or taken any nonjudicial punishment. Until he is, he should be able to keep his rank.

Oh, definitely, agreed. I simply don't think after he walked out (admitted, by himself, in said episode of the podcast) that he should have continued to be promoted and been paid when he walked away from his post. He's admitted this. It's not like he was snatched. Agreed, he needs to be convicted before a military court before they recoup these things, but it's not like there's an argument as to what he actually did. He's admitted these things. Don't punish him further, but only backpay him at PFC pay for when he was in captivity. Nothing he did deserves a promotion and therefore (relatively greatly!) increased compensation based on his POW promotions to E-4 and E-5. It's not 'honorable service', which makes a big difference when it comes to compensation.
posted by SeanMac at 8:08 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll say this for the Rolling Stone article: it makes his decisions make more sense. Well, other than his original hike idea, that's still terrible.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:20 AM on December 11, 2015


I brought this up in the FanFare thread but teaming up with Mark Boal and Annapurna Pictures raises some questions that haven't really been addressed anywhere. What did Serial agree to in return for getting access to the tapes of Boal's conversations with Bergdahl? Is Serial getting funding from Boal, his company Page 1, or Annapurna, and if so does that funding come with any strings attached? Also, it sounds like Boal is planning on making a movie based on Bergdahl's story, which would probably have some influence on what information is revealed in Serial, depending on the degree of control he has. I'm not saying that Serial can't be trusted, but they should be transparent about these things.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:48 AM on December 11, 2015


I thought Serial earned the "not to be trusted" badge after season 1. Based on the discussion on the blue, the reports from people who were interviewed (or chose not to be interviewed, and Serial then painted unfavorably), and generally "bad journalism" reactions (coming at it like Fox News -- with an agenda, not reporting)
posted by k5.user at 7:29 AM on December 11, 2015


There's nothing anyone can do to keep you from being entertained by someone else's troubles. You have that legal right. You can discuss things as tastelessly as you'd like to! No one can stop you from being insensitive. You have the legal right to use other people's lives as entertainment, and to be as salacious as you like.

I feel like I kind of understand what you're saying, but then I can't see how all documentaries don't fall into this category of salacious exploitation. In your view, is it not possible to engage with something like Serial for actual educational purposes, to simply learn more about an incident which has had a direct effect on a huge number of people in the armed forces, and which serves as a point of reflection about our overall actions and policies in the world at large?
posted by dnash at 8:14 AM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's basically my question too, as I certainly wasn't trying to defend my right to be "entertained by someone else's troubles" but I do actually think I have a right to know about things that happen in the world and I think those things can and should be freely discussed and discussable or else we all live in North Korea watching the same six Kim-Jong-produced films and one news program recorded in 1986 that they just re-run every night.

And human brains want to fill in holes in stories, the brain will go to extraordinary lengths to explain the unexplain-ed/able. Curiosity happens. Watercooler talk happens. Yes, sometimes it is gross. Sometimes the sewers fill with so much shit and cooking grease and bullshit "seems about right to me!" theories that it bubbles up out of a manhole and turns into Donald Trump.

I agree that the affiliation of Serial with Mark Boal to make this a pre-production longform trailer for a film is disappointing, but Tom Brokaw telling me the same story in hopes I'll stick around and see ads for cat litter and NCIS : Denning, NM isn't actually any different. It's funny that people (even me) somehow hold Sarah Koenig to some kind of super-elevated higher journalistic standard for a storytelling show (most of the complaints about Serial S1 come down to "well, it failed to be 700 hours long so that every single detail could be presented, unlike my favorite newspaper/news show/documentary which started the story 13 years ago and continues to cover it every day").

All stories have angles, and all stories have innocent bystanders, but I do not think we should be keeping murders and other crimes secret just because someone might like hearing about it.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:22 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bowe Bergdahl to Face Court-Martial on Desertion Charges
A top Army commander on Monday ordered that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl face a court-martial on charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, prompting a huge manhunt in the wilds of eastern Afghanistan and landing him in nearly five years of harsh Taliban captivity.

The decision by Gen. Robert B. Abrams, head of Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., means that Sergeant Bergdahl, 29, faces a possible life sentence, a far more serious penalty than had been recommended by the Army’s own investigating officer, who had testified that a jail sentence would be “inappropriate.”
posted by peeedro at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


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