As one dude as obsessed with the scene as I am remarked, “Why would Ice Man and Slider, who love busting Maverick’s balls, not give him crap for wearing jeans to play sand volleyball in the summer?”
I mean, these guys could have just as easily been playing a high-stakes game of Poker or Monopoly...but volleyball? In the summer? In jeans? What does it all mean?
Nobody—including the audience—is taught any lessons
If McKee is indeed correct about the hero’s journey, then all we have to do is look at the last scene of Top Gun to realize that Maverick will never truly change. Iceman says it himself, “You’re still dangerous.” Followed by the famous line, “You can be my wingman anytime,” to which Maverick retorts, “Bullshit, you can be mine.”
So, Iceman is still a stickler for the rules and Maverick is still a hothead wildcard—well, a hothead wildcard with a dead best friend.