One has to admire MacGyver as a series willing to do a story related to an event as horrific as the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, and not in the exploitative way that so many of "Law and Order's" ripped from the headlines episodes do. The Tiananmen Square story was particularly topical given this series' international agent theme. Nonetheless, the only electric moment of this episode came when Mei Jan showed MacGyver and Pete videotaped footage from the massacre in Beijing. Beyond that, everything else was fairly cut and dry, particularly in the second half when MacGyver tried to sneak into the Chinese Embassy and got busted. There was a certain excitement to the multi-story ride down the wire at the end of the episode, but since MacGyver had already done a similar stunt in season one's "The Prodigal", it didn't really feel that original. There really isn't anything worthy of criticism in this episode. I just didn't find it to be as enthralling as most MacGyver adventures at this stage of the series.
"Children of Light" was the first MacGyver episode in the November sweeps ratings period of 1989. There had been a shakeup in the timeslot that year putting everything in a state of flux. NBC was still winning the hour with "ALF" and "The Hogan Family" but both shows had fallen significantly and were continuing to fade as the season went on. CBS's "Major Dad" had been enjoying some modest success, but wasn't running away with the hour, and CBS was already on its second sitcom at the 8:30/7:30 hour, which was dragging well behind "Major Dad"'s lead-in. Fox's "21 Jump Street" was performing poorly, but was nonetheless scoring 5-7% of the audience share, and much of that was likely coming at MacGyver's expense. For its part, "MacGyver" was remarkably consistent in the first half of its fifth season, but unfortunately it was consistently mediocre and showing little signs of finding the ratings' groove it had enjoyed late in the fourth season.