The MacBook Pro 15" started acting weird. After attempting a full reinstall and recovery that continually failed, I determined the hard drive was failing.
Replacing the hard drive was a piece of cake, and the recovery from the Time Machine backup went smoothly. Not only is everything back up and running, but running with a bigger, faster SSHD drive.
Keep regular backups! If you install the operating system fully from scratch and then do a full recover from Time Machine you get the recover partition created automatically. If you just do a recover from Time Machine by booting from the Time Machine disk you don't get the recover partition. There are ways to create it manually afterward, but it's easier to let the OS installer do its thing.