Happily, such extremes are no longer necessary--Dan has supplemented his excellent essays about the show's first and second seasons with some thoughts about the third:
Swearengen spends much of the season trying to marshal a force large enough to combat Hearst's own when the time comes for gunplay, but ultimately he is instead forced to kill an innocent girl merely to ensure his town's diminished survival. There is no fighting a man like Hearst, nor the sort of world his type of person brings. In that world, Swearengen will carry on much as before - there will always be pimps and drug dealers - but he will not be master of his own fate. Civilization has come to 'Deadwood', and it means the end of total libterty. The age of the cowboys are over - this is the true creation of a nation. The viewer has thought they were watching a battle, but they never were. They were watching a rout.