This controversial episode aired shortly after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. A departure from the series because of its serious tones, Dutch and Dillon are sent to infiltrate a white supremacist ring and capture two criminals known for launching hate crimes against African American families in Selma, Alabama. Dutch is deeply affected by the suffering and poverty of these families, and Payback marks one of the few episodes where both Dutch and Dillon cry.

The episode is noteworthy in that it aired with a disclaimer alerting viewers to the serious subject matter, and was the topic of considerable discussion in the American South. Martin Luther King was originally mentioned by name in the episode, but the scene was cut from final airing.