Deadwood's improper sendoff left most of the characters in a state of impotent distress. Mining magnate, sociopath, and Foghorn Leghorn impersonator George Hearst had captured the largest gold claim in town. Al Swearengen, town mascot and warrior for fair-priced liquor and whores, is left scrubbing a blood stain off of his office floor. The bad guy wins, and the good guys have only withstood his wake. The victory they claim is that their throats remain uncut.
While Deadwood takes a few liberties with real-life events, I sincerely doubt that Milch would have opted to conclude his magnum opus with all the protagonists eternally locked in a freeze frame high-five. It was a show about a lawless town's ascent into law and order. Yet, regardless of how many constables and businessmen you shake hands with, there was always a chance that someone was going to fuck you over. And being fucked over in Deadwood usually meant that you'd wind up as pig food.
A group of unhappy townsfolk outlasting the assault of an cold-blooded Old West business tycoon exemplifies that theme. Time will go on and their ups and downs will continue, but the closure of season three of Deadwood is as clean an ending as it would have gotten. The town had been irrevocably changed, but the people inside of it -- those wonderful cocksuckers -- were still fuckin' breathing.