WHEN: 9:25pm EST, October 27th, 2012
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Sleepy, worried about cutting this week’s viewing so close, sleepy, just watched Raiders beforehand, sleepy, eating a sausage sub, very sleepy.
TODAY’S GOAL: Spot the foreshadowing.
Last week, Marie pointed out that in one shot, Goose is the only one not wearing sunglasses, which she thought was a coded message hinting at his eventual death.
And Chipper was actually dead the whole time.
In fairness, this is just one screengrab. A few seconds prior, Maverick is the one without glasses and Goose has his on, so it doesn’t seem likely that Tony Scott was trying to slip us any clues. But good eye, Marie.
When she brought up this interesting eyewear distribution, it reminded me of when I watched Hot Shots! Goose’s equivalent in the movie is named Dead Meat, and before his demise, he walks past gag after gag after gag poking fun at the fact that he will die.
Not foreshadowed: Charlie Sheen’s eventual demotion from humanity.
It made me laugh, but it seemed a little unfair. I didn’t think Goose’s death was obvious to the point of deserving a skewering like this. But now I wonder: are there intentional signs in Top Gun that Goose will kick the bucket? And not just lazy screenwriting, obviously. I’m looking for Edgar Wright levels of plot foreshadowing.
So, that’s today’s mission. Collect the harbingers, no matter how subtle. I’ll be grabbing anything that singles Goose out, relates to his injuries, or just generally smells like death. We can argue over directorial intent later. (Comments section! We have one!)
SIGNS GOOSE IS GONNA DIE:
- Anthony Edwards’s opening credit disappears as the silhouette of a pilot exits the screen in the foreground.
- His call sign may be an allusion to the phrase “his goose is cooked.”
- One of the earliest dialogue exchanges between Maverick and Goose refers to going fishing. Goose’s corpse is later reeled out of the ocean.
“Roger, and I’ll clean ‘im and fry ‘im.”
- Goose says “watch the birdie” before he snaps a photo. Goose is the only pilot in the film with a bird-themed call sign.
- When Goose addresses Cougar outside of Stinger’s office, Cougar turns around and instead talks to Maverick, as though Goose isn’t even there.
- In Stinger’s office, the shot is framed so that only Goose’s reflection can be seen in the mirror.
“Oh, that? That’s just my death window. Now back to how much fun TOPGUN will be!”
- Goose wears a cross around his neck, a common shape for a headstone.
- Stinger tells Goose he is lucky to be here. On the aircraft carrier, or among the living?
- Out of his entire class of TOPGUN students, only Goose has a mustache.
- When the blinds are opened after Jester’s introductory speech, only Goose rubs his eyes. Everybody else barely flinches.
What did he see? What did he see?!
- When Iceman makes his ladies room joke, Goose says, “Ah, ya kill me.” Which Iceman later totally does. Also, Goose points out that his call sign is spelled with two O’s. Is he clarifying that for the trophy… or his tombstone?
- At the bar, Iceman says he hears that Maverick likes to work alone. He’s about to.
- In the scene that inspired this analysis, there are a few combinations of pilots with their glasses on and off. In the beginning, only Maverick is without glasses. Then Goose removes his and Maverick puts his on. Then Chipper removes his. Then Maverick. So, not a huge piece of evidence for the foreshadowing pile, but still interesting.
“Interesting” is the word, right? Not “tedious” or “pointless”?
- After the meeting with Viper, Goose says, “Holy shit!” and knocks the back of his head against a wall with a significant thump. This is the exact location on his body where he will sustain the fatal blow.
Maverick, as usual, ignores him and makes plans to bone Auntie McGillis.
- Goose says every time they go up, it’s like Maverick is flying against a ghost. We’re supposed to infer that this is the ghost of Maverick’s father, but maybe it’s Goose himself?
- Maverick tells Goose that he’s the only family he’s got. Considering the Mitchell clan’s tendency to die young, seems like a warning that Goose is on deck.
- Goose is the odd man out during the volleyball game as he’s the only player wearing a shirt. And on that shirt is a bird plummeting out of the sky. Again, the only bird-themed call sign…
Man, those dog tags are going right in the water.
- The first lines that Goose sings at the piano are: “You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain.” Goose is later caught in a turbulent flat spin (shaking his nerves) and he cracks his skull off of the canopy (rattling his brain).
- Viper says, “Goose is dead,” after Goose dies– oh, wait. Foreshadowing.
So now we get to the big question: is any of this intentional?
If we get all Death of the Author here, it doesn’t even matter. No, that’s not literal (R.I.P., Mr. Scott), it’s the idea that the creator of a piece should be completely removed from the analytical equation, including their intent, their personal history, and anything they say publicly or privately about their own work.
Yeah, Roland Barthes in the hizzy!
In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter that Quentin Tarantino has a foot fetish, even if he states this to be the case in interviews. All that matters is what his films are trying to say about feet.
Conclusion: Each one has five toes. Five sexy, naughty little toes…
So, were I to try to conclude that Tony Scott deliberately left several clues as to which TOPGUN student was going to die by the end of the film, I could maybe listen to the commentary for Top Gun (which I have) or watch all the films of Tony Scott (which I have), but under D of the A rules, I have to base my conclusion off of the movie itself and nothing else.
Based on these parameters… eh?
I mean, there is an odd sense of spirituality to the film. It comes paired with your standard patriotic mindset. That end scene where Maverick talks to the dog tags, really channeling the memory (or “spirit”) of Goose suggests a sort of odd predestination in this universe. Top Gun is packed with several coincidences that all fall into place. If Cougar hadn’t thought of his wife and freaked out, Maverick never would have gone to TOPGUN. If Maverick hadn’t gone to TOPGUN, he wouldn’t have been in the final conflict. If Goose hadn’t died, Maverick wouldn’t have grown as a person. If Viper hadn’t served with Maverick’s father and told him the truth, Maverick would have quit being a pilot. And maybe we would have lost an entire war to a powerful and dangerous (if somewhat generic) enemy.
Oh, and Charlie never would have risked the lives of commuters for some blue-tinted licking.
Okay, can we let the author out of the box now?
I doubt any of this was intentional. And I base this on the commentary and Tony Scott’s body of work. I’m not saying he’s unskilled. I just think that Top Gun was not a terribly passionate project for Scott. That’s not to imply that he wouldn’t give his all to a film that was not quite what he set out to make, but I just can’t see him scribbling notes that Anthony Edwards should thump his head on the wall in the spot where his character bleeds to death. He doesn’t seem like that kind of director.
I mentioned Edgar Wright earlier because he does seem like that kind of director. But how do I know this? Because we live in the Special Features Age. These days, no intent on the part of any film auteur with his or her own featurette goes undeclared. There’s a slew of trivia tracks, interviews, and audio snippets letting you in on all the crazy details that simply cannot go unnoticed. I bring this up because I could easily watch Shaun of the Dead 52 times and never pick up that Ed foreshadows the entire series of events in the film. But I know that now because of fancy goodies like interactive menus (!).
In conclusion, I’m glad I gave Tony the benefit of the doubt, and that my Lit Theory training kicked in before I completely wrote off any deathly omens. I might have ended this article with a simple: “Eh, this is all bullshit.” And maybe it is. But hey, you can talk about it at parties.
“Yeah, man, Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw is totally an anagram of Bad Rocking Sea Show!”
I now direct your attention to the comments section.