WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Spy x Family Chapter #39 by Tatsuya Endo and Rina Mapa, available in English now from Viz Media.
Being the son of a politician is tough. Being the son of the President of the National Unity Party of Ostania -- the target of Loid Forger's mission -- is a hundred times more stressful. When we first meet Damian Desmond in Spy x Family, he's every bit the stereotypically snotty rich kid who has goons hanging on his every word. He's rude and cocky but there's much more to Damian than just simply the mean kid. Slowly, though, we find that really, he's just a child who wants nothing more than a little bit of his father's attention.
In a world where deception and lies are told (all for good reasons, in the case of the Forgers), it's hard to find people who are genuinely allies, and friends who care about each other unconditionally. But in Spy x Family Chapter #39, the spotlight is taken off the Forgers and placed on Damian, who discovers that he has not just one, but two people who will always stay by his side. The result is a big moment of growth for him as a character.
In Spy x Family, Punishment Brings People Closer
In Chapter #39, it's sad, at first, to see Damian so effervescently happy to hear his father's praise that he studies long into the night, unaware that his efforts may not be recognized. As he watches the other kids his age play, Damian believes that he's different from them but this doesn't come from a place of arrogance. He can't spare a moment of relaxation because he has to keep working to earn Stella Stars in order for his father to praise him again.
When Damian is punished for sleeping in, his friends try to cheer him up by asking him to the movies, but he refuses. In an utterly touching moment, his friends purposefully get punished themselves so they have to stay behind with him. This gives us a glimpse of Damian relaxing a little bit, allowing himself a little bit of reprieve from being Donovan Desmond's son.
A Friend-Trip Nearly Kills Damian and His Friends
This relaxation ends when, after being sent on a canoeing trip down some rapids with a huge waterfall at the end, Damian is flung into the water. Without even an iota of hesitation, his friends dive in to save him but it's pointless: It turns out none of them can swim.
In an act of true heroism and loyalty, Damian's friends decide to sacrifice themselves if only so Damian can live, and he bursts into tears at seeing his friends' selflessness. The moment comes to a screeching halt went their minder, Mister Green, informs them that they weren't drowning in the first place -- the water was shallow enough that they could all comfortably stand.
Damian Realizes He Has Friendships That Will Last a Lifetime
We've seen a variety of expressions from Damian, most of them in reaction to Loid's daughter Anya saying or doing something ridiculous, but it's rare to see him act his age. He has always held himself up to the highest standards, trying to act more like an adult in a child's body rather than the six-year-old he is. At the very end of their adventures, Damian hands in a report that only contains two sentences: "We saw a lot and did a bunch of stuff [sic]. It was fun."
If we look closely, we can see that Damian initially wrote "I" in his report but later crossed it out to replace it with "We" which is a huge step-up from his previous egotistical personality, showing significant character development.
When we first saw Damian with his friends, we assumed that they were only friends with him because of his status. All Damian has ever known is an environment in which he's not accepted; where he was always living in his brother's shadows and scrutinized by his father. But his friends (who, for some reason, remain unnamed) allow him to be himself, to smile and laugh freely. They give him that sense of family that he's never had. For once, the weight of being the son of Donovan Desmond is lifted -- he can finally be just Damian.