"There's No Place Like Home" is the season finale of the American Broadcasting Company's fourth season of the serial drama television series Lost, consisting of the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth episodes. They are also the eighty-first, eighty-second and eighty-third episodes respectively, of the show overall. The three constituent episodes were split into two broadcasts; "Part 1" was aired on May 15, 2008 and "Parts 2 and 3" were aired on May 29, 2008 on ABC in the United States and on CTV in Canada. The second and third parts make up the two-hour season finale of the fourth season. The episodes were written by executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof; "Part 1" was directed by co-executive producer Stephen Williams, while executive producer Jack Bender directed "Parts 2 and 3". The narrative focuses on a confrontation between the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 and the mercenaries from the freighter Kahana as the survivors desperately try to escape the Island. Also, flashforwards show what the Oceanic Six, those who are rescued, first do after returning home. The title is a reference to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
On the Island, Jack and Kate follow the signal from the phone dropped from a helicopter by Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey). They encounter James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway), Aaron and Miles Straume (Ken Leung); Kate takes the baby and Miles back to the beach. Jack and Sawyer meet up with Lapidus, who has been handcuffed to the helicopter; they are set to leave when they decide they need to rescue Hurley from the mercenaries. Meanwhile, Sayid arrives at the beach on the freighter's Zodiac raft just as Kate returns. Sayid and Kate go after Jack and Sawyer, but are instead captured by Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) and the rest of the Others. Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) starts ferrying people back to the freighter Kahana; Sun, Jin, Aaron and three background survivors arrive at the boat, only to discover a large amount of C4 explosives onboard.
Meanwhile, in their quest to move the Island, Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson), John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) and Hurley arrive at the _The_Orchid, which is disguised as a greenhouse. Ben sends Locke to the "real" part of the station and surrenders himself to Martin Keamy (Kevin Durand) and the other mercenaries from the Kahana, who had previously arrived. Ben is not worried because he "always [has] a plan." A final montage shows the Oceanic Six in their respective predicaments, after which we are shown Ben being made unconscious.
Inside the underground chamber, Ben tells Locke to watch the orientation video for the Orchid station. While Locke watches the video, Ben puts every metal item he can find into a small compartment at the back of the station, much to Locke's consternation, since the video explicitly warns against such actions. The tape begins to discuss time travel involving a pouch of exotic matter embedded in the mountain and rabbits when the VCR malfunctions and rewinds to the beginning. Shortly, Keamy arrives and tells Locke that if he (Keamy) dies, the bomb on the freighter will explode, because there is a remote trigger linked to a heart-rate monitor he is wearing. Ben, still reeling over the loss of his adopted daughter Alex (Tania Raymonde), kills Keamy with no remorse or sympathy for those on the boat, to Locke's distress. Ben then tells Locke that whoever moves the Island is forced to leave it and never come back. Ben says that he must do it so that Locke can stay and lead the Others. Ben tells Locke where to meet the rest of the Others and bids farewell. Locke goes to the Others, who welcome him home.
Ben seals and then activates power to the compartment he had loaded with metal items, blowing a hole in the back of it. After donning a parka, Ben climbs through the hole and into a tunnel, where he descends down a ladder into a frozen chamber. While descending into the chamber, he falls and cuts his arm. He then turns a very large metal wheel, apparently to initiate the process of moving the island. As he completes the rotation, weeping and apparently remorseful of his impending banishment, an eerie sound and flash of white-yellow light soon envelope the entire island. (In "The Shape of Things to Come" is shown that after that Ben appears in the Sahara Desert dressed in a similar parka with a similar cut on his arm in October 2005 while he moved the island in the end of December 2005.)
Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sawyer, Hurley, and Frank Lapidus leave the Island on the helicopter, but discover a fuel leak which occurred during the earlier gun battle between Keamy's men and the Others. In order to lighten the helicopter, Sawyer jumps out, but not before whispering something in Kate's ear and kissing her. The helicopter makes it back to the Kahana in the nick of time; they refuel it, fix the leak, pick up Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick), Sun and Aaron and leave before the bomb explodes, killing Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau) and presumably Jin, as well as many others on the boat. Just before the bomb explodes, Christian Shephard (John Terry) appears to Michael, who is busy attempting to stall the explosion by cooling the battery with liquid nitrogen, and tells him he "can go now". Daniel, who is ferrying people between the island and the boat, stops. Sawyer swims back to the Island to find Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) drinking rum and sadly watching the distant smoke rising from the wreckage of the ship.
The people on the helicopter decide to return to the Island, but as they approach, they see the island vanish in the white-yellow light. With nowhere to land, the helicopter again runs out of fuel and the survivors are forced to ditch into the ocean. They drift in a rescue raft for several hours, where Hurley suggests that Locke succeeded in moving the Island, but Jack disagrees. At night, the survivors encounter a boat owned by Penelope Widmore (Sonya Walger). Jack then tells the other survivors that they must lie about what has happened to them to protect the people still on the Island. Desmond and Penny are reunited and Desmond introduces her to the other survivors. They reluctantly agree with Jack's plan to lie about what they have been through, and they come up with a plan for the survivors to arrive on a small island in Indonesia with a phony story about how they got there after the plane crash. They bid farewell to Desmond and Frank Lapidus and arrive on the island of Sumba, some 3000 miles away from where they were picked up.
In a series of flashforwards, Kate, Jack, and Walt Lloyd (Malcolm David Kelley) all recount stories of being approached by Jeremy Bentham, the man in the coffin that Jack visits in "Through the Looking Glass". In London, Sun confronts Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) and tells him that they have common interests involving the Island. Meanwhile, Sayid breaks into the mental hospital where Hurley is staying and convinces him to go "somewhere safe." Sometime later, Kate has a dream in which Claire tells her not to bring Aaron back to the Island. The final flashforward is set where the one in "Through the Looking Galss" was over. Jack and kate argue about returning to the island, after which Jack returns to the funeral parlor where he is confronted by Ben, who says that the Island will not allow Jack to return without everyone else who left joining him, including Locke, who is revealed to be in the coffin and has been contacting the Oceanic Six under the alias Jeremy Bentham.
The episode was originally planned to be split into two one-hour parts, but executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse petitioned ABC to include one of their three episodes "in the bank" (due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike) at the end of the fourth season, leaving 34 episodes to be split over seasons five and six.
Scenes featuring Alan Dale (who plays Charles Widmore) were filmed in secret in London as Dale was appearing as King Arthur in Spamalot there at the time. Dale was not made aware of the plot of the episode, saying that "the wording, the title and all the headings on the scripts were changed. Only [he] knew they were the Lost scripts, along with the director." Production staff were flown to London and sets for Dale's scenes were constructed at Shepperton Studios. Location filming was also done at great expense at Connaught House and a restaurant beneath Tower Bridge.
Two alternate endings were shot for the episode in order to minimalize the risk of the real ending being leaked. Both versions were shown on Good Morning America on May 30, 2008. In the first alternate ending, Sawyer is in the coffin and in the second, Desmond is in the coffin.
"There's No Place Like Home: Part 1" was watched by 11.40 million American viewers, achieving a 5.0/14 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic in the Nielson Ratings. This means that 5.0 percent of all households with an 18 to 49 year old living in it watched the episode, and 14 percent had their televisions tuned to the channel at any point. The episode was watched by 464,000 viewers in Australia and was the thirtieth most watched program of the night, a feat that David Dale of The Sun-Herald thought proved that "there's hope for the world". Patrick Kevin Day of the Los Angeles Times praised Michael Giacchino's musical score, writing that "I'm reminded of the heights of emotion this series can evoke. Jarett Wieselman of the New York Post thought that the finale's split and two-week break was "not cool", but asked "how brilliant was Sun's smackdown on her bad daddy?". Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger wrote that "when Lost is at its best … it manages to balance revelations … with great character moments. I don't know that I'd put this one in the pantheon (again, a lot of it was set-up for … [Parts 2 & 3]), but it was definitely in the spirit of what I love about the show." Kristin Dos Santos of E! praised the chemistry between Naveen Andrews and Andrea Gabriel, who play Sayid and Nadia, respectively. Chris Carabott of IGN gave the episode a 7.9. He commended the music and called it "a good opening to what should be an exciting season finale"; however, the lack of suspense in favor of set-up was cited as the reason for the modest rating. Dan Compora of SyFy Portal called "Part 1" "an excellent setup episode [with] fast pace, important revelations, and nearly a full utilization of the cast". Compora decided that "certain characters work much better in very small doses … a little bit of [Hurley] goes a long way [and] it was nice to see Jack featured without completely dominating an episode. Oscar Dahl of BuddyTV summed up Part 1 as "very good", but said that the opening flashforward in which the Oceanic Six are reunited with their families was anticlimactic and "although each flashforward scene had minor and major revelations, it felt patched together and a little sloppy, like Lindelof and Cuse had all this ground to cover in their quest to link all the action up to the final scene of season 3 … That said, the flashforward scenes all played out exceedingly well. Daniel of TMZ welcomed the return of Richard (on the island) and gave the episode an "A", saying that it had "more than a few fantastic scenes. All the flashforward scenes tonight were right on the money as far as I was concerned. Jay Glatfelter of The Huffington Post "really liked this episode" and concluded that it "definitely showcased the new breath of life the fourth season gave to the show.
Matthew Fox received much praise for his performance in the scene in which his character Jack reacts to the revelation that Claire is his half-sister. Jarett Wieselman of the New York Post called this "brilliant acting", while Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger said that "Fox played Jack's anguish beautifully" and called this scene a contender for "Fox's single best moment in the history of the show". Kristin Dos Santos gave Fox "mad props" and Chris Carabott of IGN said that "Fox hasn't been given much of an opportunity to stretch his acting muscles this season but he gives a great performance [in this scene]."
"There's No Place Like Home: Parts 2 & 3" was watched by 12.20 million American viewers, achieving a 4.9/13 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic, also making it the most watched show of the week. The episode was watched by 603,000 viewers in Australia. Robert Bianco of USA Today said that "a great season of Lost ended with a suitably great finale, which … ended with the … whoa-inducing discovery that Locke was the man in the casket. Didn't see that coming—and I can't wait to see what this terrific TV series has coming next. Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe wrote that "the episode was dynamic and busy enough as it relied heavily on action-adventure… but the finale wasn't as mind-bending as [the third] season's farewell, during which we received the show's first flash-forward. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger enjoyed the triple-length "There's No Place Like Home", but ranked it in the middle of his list of the season's episodes from best to worst and decided that "'There's No Place Like Home" (all three parts) played fair with the audience 100 percent, answered [many] questions … and yet … I feel ever so slightly disappointed by all of this." He also found the special effects "looked much shoddier than usual" and praised the score. Frazier Moore of the Associated Press thought that "it might be the most rewarding, deliciously challenging episode in the history of this mystical ABC serial. Dan Compora of SyFy Portal wrote that "Part 2" "was perhaps the most action-packed, meaningful episode of television I've watched all year. The pace was excellent, and the revelations were plentiful." Compora also wrote that "though the pace was considerably slower, ['Part 3'] delivered in a big way … it was [not a letdown, being] well written and well directed in its own right.
The second and third parts of the episode are currently nominated in the category of "Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series" for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards.