Bleach certainly threw a surprise into the ring with the last episode as
Ichigo's father arrived just as Aizen was about to reveal something key
about Ichigo's birth. While the father was a surprise, having something
step in and slow down the revelation is not, so I can't say I'm
surprised by it in general. His father and Aizen set up things for a
nice little fight at the start here, after he knocks Ichigo off the
building, but it also sets up a fight between Gin and Ichigo to be had.
Considering the relationship of the two, which goes back to when Ichigo
first made his way into the Soul Society, it's not a surprise here
either that the two have a long standing issue between each other to
take care of.
Bleach's use of recaps in this kind of format is still a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's not a complete recap episode like we've seen before as it still has a good amount of new animation to it that helps to, albeit slowly, carry the story forward. Some of the recap has been a bit long, more so in the previous episodes, but it's all been used better than it could have been by showing how Aizen has manipulated things as well as reinforcing the relationship between Ichigo and Gin. It's also used well in this episode to show that Ichigo is a bit more self aware of himself and how he deals with his opponents in terms of feeling the power of their hearts and convictions in battle, though he doesn't really register it until afterwards since he gets caught up in the heat of battle or whatever strategy comes to mind in the blink of an eye.