no holds barred (6/22)

The second series of the compelling US legal drama continues. In this week’s instalment, the apparent suicide of a famous fighter turns into a murder case that leads to the man behind a bigbusiness fighting league.

Stark and his team are called to the home of one Steve Abbot – a famous fighter who has just won his 40th bout in the Ultimate Fighting League (UFL). Abbot has been shot in the head and lies slumped over the breakfast bar. There are no signs of forced entry, nothing is missing from the house and there are no solid suspects. After initially pretending that Abbott was murdered, his wife, Kelly, eventually admits that she tampered with the scene to cover up her husband’s suicide. “Steve was a hero to a lot of people and I couldn’t let our son know how he really died,” she says.

However, Stark is still keen to treat the case as murder. It emerges that Abbott, along with many other fighters in the UFL, was on a cocktail of performance-enhancing steroids prescribed by a doctor at the behest of one Teddy Banks – the founder and CEO of the UFL. “I want to nail Teddy Banks for second-degree murder,” he tells a shocked Devlin. By forcing Abbott to take steroids that made him depressed enough to kill himself, Stark theorises, Banks is responsible for his death. Banks is arrested, but the prosecution case is slim. No fighter is willing to testify that they were forced to take steroids, and Banks’s expensive lawyer is incredulous that Stark wants to charge his client with the murder of a man who committed suicide. When it arrives in court, the case is soon dismissed by an irate judge.

Raina finds a new lead in the form of Rick Carris – another fighter from the league who was friends with the deceased. Carris left a message on a fan website offering sympathy for Abbott’s suicide – but it was posted before the suicide verdict was released. He could only have known such details by being at the scene before Kelly discovered her husband’s body. When it also emerges that Carris was spotted in the area on the night of Abbott’s death, Stark and his team arrest their new suspect. “I am going to find out what happened the night Steve Abbott died,” says Stark.

Further digging reveals that Carris was beaten in the ring by Abbott two years earlier – a result that caused Carris to file for bankruptcy and Abbott to sign a lucrative new deal. The lawyers then discover photographs taken some years ago showing Carris on holiday with Kelly, who later became Abbott’s wife. “Abbott got the glory, the big bucks and the girl,” says Madeleine. “And we just got our motive,” adds Devlin.

The case seems to be solved, until a re-examination of the murder scene shows that Carris had an accomplice. A call from Carris’s phone on the night of the murder is then traced to a private jet belonging to none other than Teddy Banks. Though Banks was in Vegas on the night of Abbott’s death, he could easily have made it to LA in time to assist Carris. “There’s just one little problem,” says Reyes. “We have no idea why Banks would want to kill his franchise fighter.”

Stark and Devlin make an illicit visit to Carris in jail and, without his lawyer present, it is not long before he talks. He claims that Abbott planned to quit fighting and expose Banks’s underhand dealings. Carris accompanied Banks on a visit to Abbott’s house to make him change his mind, but Banks pulled out a gun and shot Abbott – before forcing Carris to help him clean up.

When the court is next in session, Stark calls Banks to the stand as a witness, then makes a shocking statement. “Your honour, the people would like to drop charges against Mr Carris, and we would like to re-file against Mr Banks,” he says. “Only this time, it’s murder one.” Will Stark’s audacious tactics work?

Elsewhere this week, Stark and his ex-wife, Claire, clash over their contrasting approaches to Julie’s upbringing; and Stark’s concern for his daughter seems well-founded when her new boyfriend gets drunk and winds up in trouble.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1