Bleach has really hit an intriguing point in the series where we have
such a potentially series-changing revelation made with Aizen supposedly
masterminding nearly everything that Ichigo has gone through since the
start. The inclusion of little moments here and there to show how he has
overseen things is definitely going a long way towards making these
kinds of episodes halfway fun since it is otherwise just a whole lot of
recap. A greatest hits kind of gig to see what Ichigo has gone through
since becoming a substitute Soul Reaper and then forging his own way.
Learning that it may not have been his own way though, but rather
manipulated by Aizen even up to the point now where the two are
fighting, is the way to tie everything that's happened together in a way
not previously seen in the show. So much of Bleach has been without
purpose in a way that going this route is almost critical.
A large portion of this episode is once again given over to the recap side of things. It's somewhat interesting, having missed about a hundred and fifty episodes or so, to see some of the fights that I haven't seen before and to get those little nuggets tossed in about Aizen. But for the most part, it's the empty kind of recap that you usually get with no real context to give it something more with the fights themselves. It's useful to see in the way that Aizen claims to manipulate Ichigo and others for his own ends, and all of it leads into a rather bland speech by Aizen to Ichigo about what he's actually done over all this time. It's not so much that it's a bad speech, but it's kind of awkward at this phase to start throwing more confusion around as to how truthful Aizen is with what he's saying.
The episode does make a nice turn when Ichigo's father arrives on the scene, though this isn't something I'm familiar with from my run on the DVD side way back. There's a lot of confusing things coming into play here with who knows what and what Ichigo's true origins are, but Ichigo is seemingly avoiding all of it at this phase since he just wants to deal with Aizen. It's easy to see that it'll come up again soon, but the whole thing is just far too forced with the violin music and piano accompanying it. It makes it such a forced scene with emotions that it loses its potential impact.