Thematically, it's a short jaunt from "Twin Peaks" to "The Bridge."
In both, a mysterious murder kicks off the action, revealing a web of involvement.
"The Bridge," which premieres this month on FX, however, is rooted in an alarming reality. Along the Texas/Mexico border, crime is rampant. The murder of an American judge attracts attention but, quickly, it becomes clear the case is not a clearcut one.
In addition to the judge's anti-immigration stance, there's an illegal underground, a drug cartel and a serial killer to consider.
Even worse? the body that's found belongs to two people, not one.
Who's in charge? Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), a no-nonsense detective from El Paso has to partner with her counterpart from Mexico, Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir).
Based on "Bron," a Danish series, "The Bridge" unfolds like a great novel. It starts with a shocking hook, then knits a series of stray threads into a massive quilt of contradictions.
When a reporter (Matthew Lilliard) is locked into his car with a bomb ticking in the backseat, it's evident this is a well-planned chain of events. But who's responsible?
In the first three episodes, it's never quite clear. But there are plenty of suspects.
A rich woman (Annabeth Gish) compromises the crime scene when she gets her husband to a hospital, complaining of chest pains. Is she guilty of something?
What about the the strange man (Thomas M. Wright) who takes women into his trailer to seemingly help them?
Or the Mexican detective's wife (Catalina Sandino Moreno)? She says she's pregnant but he has been grousing about a vasectomy. Could there be a double life lurking?
Writer/producers Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid have plotted this nicely, making the story relevant for an audience that probably didn't want to think about U.S./Mexico relations.
"The Bridge" doesn't overwhelm with information -- as too many cable shows do -- but it does shock with revelations that fit nicely into the gameplan.
Kruger and Bechir are fine leads, too. Her character has Asperger's -- which makes her abrupt manner possible. His laissez-faire attitude toward immigration helps wrestle tension.
And yet there are those odd David Lynch hallmarks that keep popping up in the storytelling -- parts of two bodies meant to be one; shrines in the desert, an actor who recorded a message three years earlier that's key to the crime today.
What does it all mean? For fans of whodunnits, "The Bridge" crosses many plotholes. It's an engrossing hour that teaches as well as it educates.
Cut through all the political rhetoric that clouds the immigration issue and you see the characters brought to life here -- the law enforcement officials trying to deal with an unmanageable problem, the residents trying to escape an unbearable world, the drug dealers hoping to expand.
"The Bridge" puts a face on a problem Washington doesn't know how to control. Perhaps in this story, there are answers that can help.
It's early. But, already, "The Bridge" is building into something very big.