Ulquiorra thinks that Ichigo and company coming to save Inoue should mean nothing to her because she’s already one of them. He then specifically has her state that her mind and body are for Aizen. Ichigo meanwhile breaks through the wall to Las Noches and decides to leave Nel behind because she’d be seen as a traitor if she followed him any further. Nel, however, chases after the group because she knows that she’s already considered a traitor. Her crying just about convinces Ichigo to let her come with them when her voice suddenly fades away. Worried, Ichigo turns back around and realizes that she fell into a large pit, so he jumps down and finds her safe on the bottom. The others follow him down, and after a small cave-in nearly buries Ichigo in rubble, the group decides to head through the nearby passageway to look for a way back up. Since it’s dark, Renji tries to light up the way with a kidou spell, but it turns out to be an embarrassingly dim light. Dondochakka then notices something in one of the side passageways, so the group follows him to a stone wall that Ichigo proceeds to break through.
A set of stairs and a few more walls later, the group arrives in a circular room with five passageways. They can feel a great spiritual force in the distance, so Ichigo once again thinks that it’s time to part ways with Nel. When he then objects to Rukia’s suggestion that they each take a different path, Rukia tells him not to worry about her because she didn’t come here to be protected by him. This is enough to get Ichigo to go along with the splitting up plan, and before they do, Renji leads the group in a cheer of sorts that includes a vow to return to this place alive. Nel, Pesche, and Dondochakka are the only ones left out and left behind, and Nel decides to chase after Ichigo. Pesche and Dondochakka watch her run off, but they realize afterwards that they’re going to have a hard time going after her because they didn’t note which of the five passageways she took. Meanwhile, Ulquiorra is approached by Nnoitra who wants to know how their pet – Inoue – is doing. Ulquiorra tries to ignore him, but Nnoitra insists, so Ulquiorra reassures him that Inoue had fallen into Aizen’s trap even before she came to Hueco Mundo.
Ulquiorra goes on to explain that he had Inoue in a psychological trap because he gave her no choice but to surrender because of his threatening her friends’ lives. The subsequent 12 hours she had to say goodbye to someone served two purposes: it lowered her guard because she mistook it for compassion and it gave her the illusion that what she was doing was based on her own choice. What’s more, because it looks like she was acting on her own will, she will be seen as having betrayed her friends. Though this last part wasn’t a complete success, Ulquiorra knows that Inoue doesn’t have the power to run away from here now. At this moment, back in her room, Inoue is thinking about how Aizen had shown her the Hougyoku when she first arrived as proof to her of his trust. He had then told her that he needed her power and asked her to use it for his sake. Though she is grateful towards Ichigo for coming to save her, Inoue now feels that she’s found the one thing that she has to do here. It is something that only she can do: return the Hougyoku to the state before it existed.
I had forgotten how long of a speech Ulquiorra gave around this part of the story, but it did explain why he let Inoue have those 12 hours to say goodbye to one person (which was something I had wondered about in the past). With a series like Bleach, I tend to remember the battles from the manga rather than the conversations between battles, so hearing all this said in the anime version actually acted as a refresher of sorts for me since this part of the manga is now over a year old. Anyway, this episode covered chapters 248 and 249 with some additional anime original stuff about Nel falling down into a pit. I still think that using the Scooby Doo mentality of splitting up is an incredibly stupid thing for them to do since each of them separately isn’t quite strong enough to take on an Espada, which the exception of maybe Ichigo. Or rather, I should say that doing it this way ensures that everyone will be in for a struggle in the fights they’ll be getting into, which doesn’t make sense from a practical standpoint, but it keeps the story interesting.
Next week’s episode looks to continue the manga storyline with the introduction of the Privaron Espada Dordonii. I wonder who’ll be voicing him…