Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

In the aftermath of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and Tom Cruise inventing karaoke, Charlie is impressed by Maverick’s singing, but gently brushes him off. Maverick doesn’t take “no” easily, so he follows Charlie into the ladies’ bathroom. Conveniently, Charlie has finished her bathroom business and is not still in the stall, mid-fart, when Maverick comes in. Since this is a movie, she unleashes a few quips in his direction rather than a gallon of pepper spray.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

Any chance for romance is quashed the next day when it’s revealed that Charlie is one of Top Gun’s instructors.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”


Any normal person would sink into their chair and pray to L. Ron Hubbard that Charlie didn’t notice them or make a comment about the failed flirtation or bathroom stalking, but not Maverick. He finds a way to brag about how he flew an inverted dive with a MiG-28 and flipped the other pilot the finger. The other pilots don’t believe Maverick, and think he’s just bluffing.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

Aviation Cowboy is not impressed.

However, Charlie recognizes the story, and is finally impressed, so she takes Maverick aside to say she’d like to hear more about the MiG sometime. Maverick flirts with her a little before heading off to his training exercises.

Maverick and Goose win their mock battle against some guy named Jester, and to celebrate, Maverick does an unauthorized flyby of the tower. Obviously, this lands him and Goose in hot water with Viper. Viper isn’t just mad about the flyby stunt; he points out that Maverick and Goose broke two major rules of engagement in their mock battle. Viper warns them that if they mess up again, they’ll be kicked out of Top Gun.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

That evening, Goose goes to Maverick’s room and tells him they need to get serious, because Goose wants to graduate from Top Gun and provide a good life for his family. Wow, sounds like he’s got a suspiciously lot to live for. He also delivers some exposition about how Maverick feels pressure because his father, Duke Mitchell, was also a great pilot. “It’s like you’re flying against a ghost and that makes me nervous,” Goose says.

Maverick promises that he won’t let Goose down anymore. (Heh, goose down.)

The next day, Charlie catches Maverick when he’s making up flight patterns or something (I really don’t understand the aviation aspects of this movie). She suggests that he pull back a certain move because it’s too aggressive. Maverick says, “Yeah, I guess when I see something I want, I go after it.”

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

“Could you not go ‘after it’ in the ladies room, though?”

Maverick knows that she wants to go out with him, but Charlie insists she doesn’t date students. However, she slips him a note inviting him to dinner at her house that evening. And now I know why men are always complaining about women’s mixed signals.

Speaking of mixed signals, the movie kills time between the invitation and the actual date with the #2 most famously homoerotic scene of the 1980s: Tom Cruise vs. Val Kilmer at beach volleyball.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

Pictured: #1

Over at Charlie’s house, Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” plays in the background, so we’re all assured this is a strictly heterosexual scene. Maverick attempts to get the sex going by asking if he can take a shower (*bow chick-a wow wow*) while Charlie cooks, and Charlie is like, “This is not a porno. We’re actually going to have a coherent conversation before we get to the sex stuff.”

Over dinner, Charlie explains that she’s up for a promotion that would take her away from Top Gun, so it wouldn’t be a conflict of interest if she and Maverick boned. Maverick tells Charlie about how his father was shot down in an undisclosed incident, and the Navy wrote it off as a pilot error, because that’s the sort of thing that happened all the time in the Cold War. Sadly, naked snuggles do not ensue.

The next day, Maverick bumps into Charlie in the elevator, and she tells him how under no circumstances can she date a student, and she only invited Maverick over to dinner to ask him about the MiG-28. However, “Take My Breath Away” plays again in the background, so you know she’s into him and he’s into her.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

Okay, this isn’t them looking very lovey-dovey, but I just thought Charlie’s outfit in this scene was cute.

In class, the subject of the day is Maverick’s MiG maneuver. Charlie asks what he was thinking at the time, and Maverick replies that he wasn’t. “You don’t have time to think up there,” he says. “You think–you’re dead.”

Charlie announces to the class that while Maverick’s move was a success, it’s an example of what not to do. An angry Maverick storms off after class, but Charlie chases after him. She admits she’s impressed by Maverick’s flying skills, but couldn’t admit it in class, lest everyone figure out that she’s fallen for him. And finally, after “Take My Breath Away” plays for the fifty millionth time in the background, those two crazy kids have a slow, sensual, blue-lit ’80s sex scene.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

Or maybe they’re doing interpretive dance; I can’t quite tell.

Top Gun training is halfway over, and Iceman is in the lead for the Top Gun Trophy, with Maverick in second place. On their next combat test, Maverick’s hopes to move up are dashed when he finds out he’s up against Top Gun Instructor Viper. They’re supposed to be protecting some guy named Hollywood, but Maverick insists on going off course to take out Viper.

Maverick matches Viper move for move, but realizes too late that Viper’s wingman, Jester, has caught them from behind. Maverick and Goose lose the fight, much to their disappointment. In the locker room, Iceman tells Maverick that he’s too reckless and too individualistic to be a great fighter pilot.

Maverick and Charlie then join Goose, his wife Meg Ryan, and their son for lunch.

Top Gun (1986): a recap (part 2 of 3)

As Maverick and Goose play around on the diner’s piano (why does a diner have a piano, anyway?), Meg Ryan tells Charlie that Maverick is in love with her. “I should know, I’ve been in over a dozen rom-coms,” she says.

Part 3 of this recap coming soon!

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

Multi-Part Article: Top Gun: a recap

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