‘Serial’ Pulls a Beyoncé, Surprise-Drops Second Season Debut

With an unannounced early-morning appearance that confirms their status as the Drake/Beyoncé/D’Angelo of podcasts, the creators of Serial dropped the first episode of their second season today.

Fans knew to expect the season two premiere sometime before the end of the year—and it was, in fact, overdue, with an October Glamour interview with host Sarah Koening placing the debut in November and Serial’s own Twitter account promising a show “soon” on November 24. But when the season two debut, “Dustwun,” appeared on the show website at 6am, fans were caught off-guard—and their eager downloads quickly crashed the site.

Downloading is still touch-and-go, but iTunes subscribers are apparently having an easier time of it, and the episode is also streaming on the show’s new Pandora station. True to early reports, the second season concerns the mystery of Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, captured and held by the Taliban for five years after leaving his base in Afghanistan before being returned to Army custody in a prisoner swap, currently awaiting trial for desertion.

Discussing season two at a BAM event in September, producer Julie Snyder said, “We feel a ton of pressure. But it’s not a pressure to live up to all of this from the first season. We’re really not planning on having the same response we had to Season 1, frankly. And we’re really, totally OK with that.” Based on the response so far, they might want to readjust those expectations.