[8.2/10 on a post-classic Simpsons scale] I’ll admit that a good chunk of my high grade for this episode comes from its nesting-doll narrative conceit. I can’t help but be impressed at the Karamazov-like way that The Simpsons manages to juggle its different stories and tangents place them within one another, while still telling a cohesive overall tale. In truth, this is basically one of the show’s typical “three stories” episodes, but the gimmick requires some genuine creativity from the writing staff, and brings out the best in the show.
The stories themselves are pretty fun too! Mr. Burns’s rivalry and scavenger hunt with Rich Texans is good for a lot of loony laughs. Moe’s ill-fated romance with Edna Krabappel is a bit derivative of his ill-fated romance with Renee in “Dumbbell Indemnity”, but it’s still amusing seeing him strain to be “fake good Moe.” And mixing in Snake’s origin story, another Burns “riches to rags” story, and even some amusing antics from a big-horned sheep makes for a fun milieu.
Not all of the gags are perfect. (Rich Texan’s OCD-based comedy in particular is utterly cringeworthy.) But there’s enough good jokes like Moe constantly tossing Barney out of the bar, or Burns’s frightening attempts to get children to smile to keep the comedy humming.
And I particularly enjoy how well the episode weaves the various stories together using Snake’s Mayan treasure as a MacGuffin. Having everything come together in the cave, with the whole opening nonsense (which isn’t great) motivated by Homer’s search for the gold is a nice touch. Some of the purported narrative complexity is deceptive - more of a trick than a genuinely interlocking set of plots -- but it’s a good and enjoyable trick!
Overall, this is one of the more creative post-classic Simpsons episodes, and that creativity, plus a solid array of gags, carries this one along.