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Unalaq forced Korra to open the second spirit portal by kidnapping Jinora. She could prevent it by returning to the physical world. Why did she stay there?
The same question concerns me in relation to the time when Korra and Jinora lost each other. They could return to the physical world and arrange where to meet - or at least to try it.

  • Because how else could they pull off the Deus Ex Jinora at the end otherwise? – phantom42 Aug 19 '15 at 11:25
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When Unalaq captures Jinora, he uses the same process to retrain her that he uses to manipulate and change the alignment of spirits. Not only do we see the spirit water surrounding her, but we know it is an active process because Unalaq continues to make the physical motions to maintain it.

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We know that this "spirit water" move can restrain angry spirits. It therefore stands to reason that it can restrain the spirit of a person as well, preventing them from moving or returning to their body in the physical world.

As for Korra and Jinora losing each other, it's well-established that the Spirit World responds to your emotional state. It seems likely that, just as entering the Spirit World requires a calm and balanced mind, exiting it requires the same thing. Losing your friend, especially for a hothead like Korra, would definitely throw her off her game.

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