Attention: spoilers of Top Gun: Maverick!
Carol Bradshaw (Meg Ryan) was an important supporting character in Top Gun, and although she no longer appeared in Top Gun: Maverick, her absence helped improve the story of her son Rooster. Miles Teller’s rooster was a future pilot under the guidance of Peter “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise), his father’s best friend, Nick “Gus” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards). Given the relationship between Goose and Maverick, one would expect that Rooster and Maverick would also be close, but without the influence of Goose or Goose’s wife Carol, their relationship was not like that at all.
The problems of Maverick and Rooster arose due to Maverick’s involvement in the demise of Goose. Maverick and Goose were flying together when they went into an uncontrolled tailspin that required ejection from the plane, resulting in the death of the Goose. While the Maverick was cleared of responsibility for the Goose’s death, the Goose’s memory was preserved for both the Rooster and the Maverick, with the latter still tormented by guilt for his involvement. In addition, Rooster harbored a grudge against Maverick, because the latter blocked the former’s application to the Naval Academy, thereby discarding his career. This created tension between them when they met again at TOPGUN.
By topic: What Meg Ryan has done since Top Gun
In “The Best Shooter,” Maverick had a close relationship with the Goose family, including Carol. In Top Gun: Maverick, it was revealed that the reason Maverick blocked Ruster’s app was because Carol asked him to stop Ruster from flying. The absence of Meg Ryan in Top Gun: Maverick increased the tension between the two characters, which allowed Maverick and Rooster to organically resolve their conflict and made Rooster a more complete character, improving his story as a whole.
When Rooster was introduced, he had problems on his shoulder due to the failure at the Naval Academy and the death of his parents. These factors motivated him to succeed in his career; since he did not have a support system (professional or family), he had to express himself in a way that he would not have had if he had parental influence in his life. Meanwhile, Maverick was still affected by the loss of Goose and wanted to prevent another potential tragedy by blocking Rooster’s application and ensuring his handling of the mission team. The tension caused by Maverick’s interference in Rooster’s career was compounded by the fact that neither man understood the other’s motives. If Carol from Top Gun: Maverick had returned, she could have resolved their misunderstanding by explaining her involvement. In her absence, they had to actively choose how to promote their own growth and solve the problem on their own. This led to a more organic, satisfying resolution of their conflict and the Rooster story, rather than what another character catalyzed.
Since he had to make an active decision to overcome his own anger, the Rooster was able to become a full-fledged character. After their confrontation before the mission, Rooster let go of his grudge against Maverick, which allowed him to be open to criticizing the latter that if “[he] thought there, [he] would be dead.” Accepting this advice prompted Rooster to save Maverick, which ultimately saved the situation. This gave a comprehensive resolution to his character, which would have been impossible without the absence of his mother.
While it would be nice to see Meg Ryan play her role again, her absence has improved the Rooster story. Without her influence, Rooster was responsible for overcoming his mental blocks, which helped him become a full-fledged character, able to stand up for himself in scenes with more developed characters, such as Maverick. This also led to an organic resolution of the conflict between the Rooster and the Maverick, allowing them to get closer because of their love for the Goose. Due to the absence of Meg Ryan in Top Gun: Maverick, Rooster and Maverick were able to reconnect with someone they had lost, as well as open the door for a new beginning.