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Community's brand of ambitious, off-the-wall comedy has put the members of Greendale's study  group in a fierce paintball competition and sent them to simulated space. But it was Season 1's Halloween episode that first showed the cast what the show was capable of doing.

"That was sort of the first inkling to me of the madness that was ahead, so I think it's nice to come back to Halloween this year," Gillian Jacobs told reporters on the set during the filming of this year's Halloween special. "We've upped the ante from last year."

Community blasts off into the (simulated) frontier

This year,  Greendale Community College is invaded by zombies when a bio-hazardous substance infects the entire student body. Community creator Dan Harmon and the cast fill us in on five things you need to know for Thursday's episode.

1. The Costumes Get Weirder: Last year's disguises were just the tip of the iceberg. Look out for Senor Chang's homage to Peggy Fleming, complete with a '60s-style leotard to show off his legs. "My fans tweet me all the time that I'm inarguably the sex symbol of the show," Ken Jeong jokes.

2. There Was Intense Preparation Behind the Scenes: For Troy's many shirtless scenes, Donald Glover stuck to a diet of egg whites and almonds. Danny Pudi says he gave himself a cold, and the cast watched Dawn of the Dead during the week of filming to "immerse" themselves in the zombie genre. "I think it's helpful that all of our shoots this week were night shoots," Pudi says. "At night, I become creepy, so this works out real well."

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3. Expect Plenty of Action: Many of the cast members required stunt doubles for the episode, and Jeong says to keep an eye out for Troy's action scenes in particular, calling Glover "the next action hero." Luckily for Glover, hitting a zombie doesn't have many moral repercussions. "You've read the laws, its domestic abuse unless she's a zombie," he jokes. "Then it's just good fun."

4. No More Ms. Nice Shirley: Harmon says a chain of events that begins in the Halloween episode will lead to a slightly more cynical Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown). "I don't want to say [we] test her faith, but I want to subject her to some experiences that kind of explore what shape her faith actually takes," Harmon says. "I want to find out what's underneath."

5. Could This Episode Lead to Season 3?: Harmon says the Halloween episode is just as daring as last year's paintball episode, which featured nods to classic action movies such as Die Hard and Terminator. "It will either get me promoted or fired," he says.

Community airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.