Matthew Fox

Let's face it: Lately Jack Shepard has been kind of a jerk.

Lost's heroic surgeon, played by TV vet Matthew Fox, has seen some hard times since the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Even the most strident Jack fans have questioned his leadership — and his character. With two episodes to go in Season 5, culminating in the two-hour season finale on May 13, we ask: When in the name of Alvar Hanso will Jack get his life-saving groove back?

First, there was the self-pitying pill-popping. Then, he refused to operate on cuddly Benjamin Linus when Sayid shot him. Most recently, the newly humbled janitor staged a supremely pointless pissing contest with Sawyer/LaFleur over who's the biggest boy in the Dharma doghouse. "Jack has been evolving, and not necessarily into a good place," Fox told Details in January.

Fans of Lost know that the show has always been a true ensemble, but Jack has always assumed a prominent position among it. He's been a planner, a leader, a doer. For that reason, Season 5 has been especially surprising, as Jack's story has been significantly back-burnered in favor of a satisfying arc about time travel and Sawyer's rise through the Dharma Initiative and his budding romance with Juliet.

But could art be imitating life? Fox's recent comments have suggested he finds playing Jack to be equally rewarding and exhausting. Which could explain Jack's grumpiness of late. "Personally, it's a relief," he told Details, of Lost's impending end. "I owe this show a great amount, and I think it's exceptionally good... [but] I am looking forward to the freedom that comes with not working on one project professionally."

Before we write Jack's epitaph, though, omniscient Lost mastermind Damon Lindelof weighed in on the subject of Jack the jerk. "Jack is having a hard time gravitating towards being a man of faith and just waiting around for something to happen. He's a guy who functions best when he has a mission," Lindelof tells TVGuide.com. "We bet you change your tune about him once the finale rolls around!" Consider us intrigued.

What do you think? Are you anxiously awaiting the return of "old" Jack? Do you like the complicated, conflicted Jack? Or are you hoping that it's his shocking death that buttons up Season 5?

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