I’ve tried to reach out to as many others affected by this as possible via Personal Messages. In most cases I can’t reply to the message threads, which limits my impact.
I was able to recover my HDD after it entered Initio limbo. I did all of the things that other people have mentioned: uninstalling the Initio driver, disabling the Initio device, fiddling with the cable, using more USB power, trying HP disk drive utilities, WD utilities, MSFT USB utilities, etc.
I tried reaching out to WD Support, but they have no tools to help when the firmware is wonky in this post-smart update firmware age. I actually contacted Initio to see if they could help, and they were very responsive, but there wasn’t much that they could do. I opened up my drive and encountered the mystery non-SATA connection internals.
I work at Microsoft, so it drives me nuts when I cannot get to the root of software issues. Fortunately, I worked my way through this one. To fix it, I had to use an older version of the firmware updater:
It seems that this older version of the firmware updater was smart enough to detect properly flashed WD drives and the “transition state” / “blank slate” ones. I really hope that this helps you. Let me know if it does, and my sympathies if it does not.