In the finale of the History Channel's epic mini-series, Hatfields & McCoys, it is obvious that no one side is winning. With lives ruined and countless dead on both sides, there are no frontrunners in this ongoing, bloody feud.
In a last ditch effort to end the feud, Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) sets out to kill Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton). But things don't work out so well. As the Hatfield clan bear down on the McCoy estate, Randall escapes out the back on the advice of his wife, Sally (Mare Winningham). The Hatfield attackers led by Jim Vance (Tom Berenger), Anse's uncle, burn the house, kill two of Randall's teenage children, and beat Sally severely.
This spurs a final battle between the families. Small armies on both sides engage in open battle as if on the front line of a real war. They begin to run out of ammunition and resort to throwing rocks and dynamite.
The men and their wounded return to their respective dwellings, both sides anguished and neither side victorious. In an ironic twist, Anse Hatfield comes to the humbling realization that his attempts at revenge have been pointless, at best. He then decides to formulate a letter to be sent to the newspapers formally declaring peace between the families. This move may foreshadow the true victor in the war between the Hatfields and McCoys. By making peace with the McCoys, Anse Hatfield also takes a big personal step and makes peace with himself and God. One of the last scenes of the movie is of Anse getting baptized.
On the other side, Randall McCoy, a religious zealot throughout the movie, loses any faith in God that he once had. In his closing scene, Randall who is now a drunk, dies tragically in a house fire that he inadvertently set after carelessly burning various newspaper reports of the feud along with pictures of his family including Roseanna, the daughter he disowned.
The prevailing theme throughout the saga is that a feud of any kind cannot be settled through vengeful acts. Anger, resentment, and bitterness become like a cancer, growing, festering, and eventually killing the one harboring them. In the case of the Hatfields and McCoy, a spirit of unrelenting unforgiveness needlessly destroyed many, many lives.