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The Janice Theory That Would Change Everything On The Sopranos

On HBO's "The Sopranos," several characters experience sudden changes in life. Some of the biggest examples of this phenomenon include Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) suddenly falling for Furio Giunta (Federico Castelluccio) and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) creating a feature film in Hollywood. While these were both notable moments in the course of the series, they pale in comparison to the shiftiest character in the series. 

While few accuse Tony's sister, Janice (Aida Turturro), of being the most self-aware character in "The Sopranos," she is certainly notable for another reason. When we first meet Janice, she returns to New Jersey after nearly two decades of absence in order to help care for her sick mother, Livia (Nancy Marchland). While this certainly sounds nice enough initially, Janice ultimately proves to be one of the most unpredictable characters in the series.

In Season 2, Episode 12 ("The Knight in White Satin Armor"), Janice shoots and kills her fiancé, Richie Aprile (David Proval). Less than a season later, Janice returns to the Garden State and steals the prosthetic leg of her mother's housekeeper. Season 3 also sees Janice begin an affair with mobster Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano), a man she later shoves down the stairs. By the end of the series, Janice settles down with Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa), a mostly level-headed, kind-hearted man — an unlikely match for the often-manipulative, strong personality of Janice.

Needless to say, Janice's time spent in New Jersey is quite the rollercoaster. But according to a fan theory, the 20 years prior to her return might have been even crazier.

Janice may have been part of a cult in Portland

When Janice arrives at Tony's house in Season 2, there's not a great deal of clarity as to what she has actually been up to for the prior two decades. During her time away, the family learns that she has joined an ashram, changed her name to Parvati, and is working at a Seattle-based coffee shop. According to Dictionary.com, an "ashram" is defined as "the residence of a guru, used for religious retreat or instruction in Hinduism."

A few fans did the math and determined that Janice's time in Oregon aligned with the height of the Rajneeshees ⁠— a cult in Wasco County, Oregon, responsible for numerous crimes in the '80s, including the intentional infection of hundreds of people by contaminating local salad bars with salmonella bacteria (via Oregon Encyclopedia).

On Reddit, u/magecatwitharrows said, "Janice would be intimately familiar with [these crimes] given her familiarity with her father's work. And the timeline matches up perfectly. After the cult disbanded, all of the members who had not been arrested scattered ... They might have done something like go work in a coffee shop in the next state over..."

Other fans were in agreement and highlighted subtle comments from Tony that allude to her possible past. U/ahkond said, "Tony [was] talking about how much lighter his wallet would be before she went 'rain dancing back to the commune.'" U/GetMeAColdPop added, "I can totally picture her spraying salmonella on Artie [Bucco's (John Ventimiglia)] food as some sort of scam/revenge."