The Emotional Stages Of Realizing 'Serial' Is Back

On Thursday morning, podcast aficionados woke up to a glorious gift: Serial Season 2 had quietly been released overnight, appearing on Pandora with virtually no warning. Not that anyone was complaining about it just kind of showing up minus the fanfare; the podcast became such a sensation that listeners have been eagerly awaiting the second season ever since the conclusion of the first last December. But the fact that we had no advance notice to prepare also means that we’ve been thrown dramatically into the emotional stages of realizing Serial Season 2 is out, and, well… let’s just say that we’re all having a lot of feelings right now.

I came to Serial relatively late during the first season; I think it was about halfway through by the time I started tuning in. But, like so many, I got quickly sucked in: Whether I was in transit or on the stationary bike, I couldn’t stop listening as journalist Sarah Koenig investigated everything we know — as well as everything we don’t know — about the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed for the crime.

But while the first season investigated a small town murder, the second season will be tackling a story on a grander scale — the case of Robert Bowdrie “Bowe” Bergdahl and his capture by the Taliban in 2009. His release was negotiated by the United States in exchange for the release of five Taliban commanders — but Bergdahl’s case remains contentious due to questions surrounding his disappearance. A 2010 investigation determined that Bergdahl left his post; however, it did not conclude that he was a deserter. Then, in March of this year, Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy. The case is active, so there’s a lot to untangle here — which means there’s plenty for Serial to examine.

Serial Season 2 is exclusive to Pandora right now, which means that I’ll probably end up waiting until it hits iTunes to start listening to it. In the meantime, though, I’m currently working my way through these 10 emotional stages. Anyone else with me?

1. Disorientation

Serial Season 2 is here???

2. Excitement

Serial Season 2 is here!!!!

3. Shouting It From the Rooftops


4. Slight Disappointment

Why? Because of the focus of the season. The case of Bowe Bergdahl is undoubtedly a fascinating one — but it’s also massive in scope. I can’t help but feel that part of what captured so many of us about Serial’s first season was how intimate the case was. This is also, of course, where some of the more problematic aspects of the podcast come into play — I keep coming back to Jay Caspian Kang’s piece on The Awl about Serial and white reporter privilege — but the story was so human because it happened on such a personal scale. Bergdahl’s story, meanwhile, is much larger in scale, involving the military, an international incident, and more. Will we connect with it as much as we did the case examined in the first season?

5. Realizing It Might Not Be Such a Bad Choice

As Bustle’s Alexis Rhiannon noted in September when rumors that the Bergdahl case would be at the center of Serial’s second season began swirling, there might be an advantage to it, as well: The case is still ongoing. Wrote Rhiannon, “Whether you believe that Adnan Syed killed his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, or that he’s been falsely imprisoned for that crime for the past 15 years, comes down to how you interpret the evidence that’s already out there, as the trail has long since gone cold.” Syed’s case was reopened in November of this year, but even so, the length of time that has passed since the crime will likely make it a difficult investigation.

The Bergdahl case, meanwhile, is not only more recent, but also still active. Bergahl was charged with one count of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” and one count of “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place” on March 25, 2015; initial hearings were set for July 8 before being postponed to Sept. 17.

Where it all goes from there still remains to be seen.

6. Wikipedia-ing Everything

The mystery may be vast, but what that means is that there’s rather a lot of information about it already available on the Internet. Time to read up on it all!

7. Hopelessly Confusing Yourself

It’s complicated. It’s all so complicated.

8. Coming To Terms With Your Confusion

But the fact that it’s complicated is the point. No case is cut and dry, because life is not cut and dry. And while we’re on the subject…

9. Reminding Yourself That We’re Talking About Real People Here

We consume real crime media the same way we do the fictional stuff these days — which makes it all the more important that we not lose sight of the fact that we’re talking about actual humans. Adnan Syed, Hae Min Lee, Bowe Bergdahl — they’re not characters. They’re people. Real people. And although our impulse is to consume Serial as entertainment, we have to treat it as reality. Because it is.

10. Ready To Listen

Let’s do this.

Images: Giphy (9)