The story involves Bart's new cellphone and its GPS "tracking chip." As a recap explains:
When the rest of Bart’s family reaches Machu Picchu, an exhausted Marge falls asleep sitting in front of a giant stone idol. She dreams it comes to life and relates to her a valuable lesson about letting future generations learn from the world and not walling them off from dangers which might actually end up teaching them something useful. When Marge awakens, they begin the 4,000 mile trek back to Springfield.
Good: The depiction of Machu Picchu looks surprisingly realistic. It blows away anything in The Emperor's New School.
Good: Homer mentions the sun god Viracocha, although he calls him "Wirakocha the trickster god." I don't know if Viracocha had any trickster attributes, but at least the mention is respectful.
Bad: The aforementioned stone idol resembles Viracocha. But the Inca didn't make stone idols, and I'm pretty sure there's no stone idol at Machu Picchu.
Good: Marge has a dream in which the idol comes alive and tells her about Inca history. This involves an even more realistic depiction of traditional Inca life. These few seconds offer possibly the best depiction of the Inca ever in a cartoon.
Bad: The idol starts his lecture with a falsehood. He claims the Inca built walls around their sites to keep their children safe--to protect them from danger and "knowledge."
Actually, I think the Inca generally did not build protective walls around their sites. I think the precariousness of Inca sites is one of the things that startled the Europeans who found them.
Good: The idol's point is that the Inca were insular by nature and this led to their defeat by the conquistadors. I'm not sure how insular you can be if you rule a far-flung empire. But it's true the Inca were woefully unprepared for the Europeans' arrival. If they had had more foreign contacts, they might not have lost so easily.
So the idol's assessment of the Inca culture is negative but perhaps realistic. That's why I've tentatively deemed it good.
Bad: As they depart, the Simpsons inadvertently leave Maggie behind. The final scene shows her standing on a monument, in Inca regalia, holding an axe. With torches flicking and drums beating, the Inca bow to her.
Although this is obviously meant to be a joke, the whole "Indians worship the white person as a god" thing is still a troubling stereotype.
All in all, this cartoon scenario is a better-than-average portrayal of Indians. As is often the case with The Simpsons, it's two steps forward and one step back.
Just plain silly
When they return, Marge says they've been gone two weeks and have driven 3,700 miles.
Let's assume the Simpsons have updated their shots and passports. And have enough money for gas, food, and lodging. These are both ridiculous assumptions for this inept family, but never mind.
If they drove 12 or more hours a day, they might be able to make it from the US to southern Peru in a week. But the round trip would be more like 10,000 than 3,700 miles.
In fact, the 3,700 figure is so far off that I wonder where the creators got it from. Did they mistakenly assume the Inca lived next door to the Maya?
Below: Bart abuses Denis Leary's cellphone.