When Pose started, Damon seemed to be one of its lead characters. After being violently kicked out of his childhood home because he was gay, he moved to New York City. There he found family in Blanca Evangelista after sleeping on benches on the piers. Before long, Blanca had built him up again and had him pursuing his dream of working as a dancer. But season three certainly does not have as robust a storyline for the character.
On Sunday night's two-part premiere, Damon Evangelista was featured lightly. He turns up for a few appearances at a family dinner, as well as at an O.J. Simpson watch party. A small exchange with Pray Tell proves pivotal.
In it, he tries to relate to Pray Tell, who is succumbing to an addiction to alcohol. Damon shows him a book from Alcoholics Anonymous and tries to provide advice to his elder. Pray Tell has no intention to take the advice but it clues viewers in that during the three-year absence of the show, Damon himself had battled substance abuse.
In the second episode, the series relies heavily on this set up as Damon doesn't make an appearance. While planning an intervention for Pray Tell, Blanca reveals that Damon has left New York City in order to return to move to Charleston, South Carolina as he had relapsed. And while this was not explicitly stated, the character is not expected to return.
In July 2020, reports surfaced that Ryan Jamaal Swain, who played Damon on the show, had lost a close family member. His sister had been fatally shot in Birmingham, Alabama at age 24.
“The unimaginable happened last night, my heart, little sister, my ride or die, my partner in life took her last breath,” he wrote to Instagram at the time.
In a press event ahead of season three's premiere, Canals confirmed that the death and Swain's grieving played a part in the writing.
"As one of our family members, we wanted to honor that and give him the space that he needed," Canals said when asked whether the death impacting Damon's inclusion on the show. The question also wondered what his storyline would have been if he were included. "I think in the spirit of honoring that, I'd prefer not to share where we would have taken thins with the character because I think the way that we mapped out the remainder is a.) I'm really proud of it and B.) I think that our actors that are here today really rose to the occasion, and so I think all of those themes are still embedded throughout the narrative of the encore of season three."